Skip to main content

Full text of "Luther Peck and his five sons.."

See other formats


Chap. Copyright No. 

,¥-4- VP A- 


REV, J. K. PECK, A.M. 




REV. J. K. PECK, A.M. 

Author of "Seven Wonders of the New World" 

Copyright by 


Introduction, - 

The First Luther Peck, - 


Rev. Luther H. Peck, 

Rev. George Peck, D.D., - 


Rev. Andrew Peck, - 

Rev. William Peck, - 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D., 


- 5 


- 48 


- 140 

- 178 

Appendix A, 
Appendix B, - 
Appendix C, 



Rev. J. K. Peck, A.M., - 
Mrs. Annis Collar Peck, 
Luther Peck, 
Rev. Luther H. Peck, 
Rev. George Peck, D.D., 
Rev. Andrew Peck, - 
Rev. William Peck, 
Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D., 

Frontispiece ■ 

- Facing; 5 
Facing 9 

- Facing 48' 
Facing 89 * 

- Facing 140 
Facing 161 

- Facing 178' 


ADIES and gentlemen, the hour is now six 
4 A. M., November 24, Anno Domini one thou- 
sand eight hundred and ninety-four, and I rise to 
remark that I have a story to tell, a narrative to 
unfold, a poem in prose to recite, an epic in five 
chapters, a drama in five acts, a century and a 
quarter long. There never was such another story, 
and there never will be again. I have the whole 
marvelous play in my mind, and if this right hand 
does not forget her cunning and this heart does 
not cease to throb before I have completed my reci- 
tation, this world will get a view of scenes whereat 
both ears shall tingle and the galleries shall ring 
with plaudits ; and when the curtain shall go down 
and the chorus has come to its rest then the world 
will sigh for a repetition, but it will sigh in vain. 
" This story shall the good man teach his son." 

The five brothers have made their history and 
gone to their final account, and I am startled with 
the vastness of the pressing weight that settles 
down upon me, weary and exhausted with a life- 
work, while the task seems to devolve upon me to 



commit to paper the details of such revolutions as 
those five brothers put their shoulders under. I 
knew them all, and was personally acquainted with 
their faithful father and mother, and I am the only 
living person who has preached in the pulpits 
where each one of the five has preached. I have 
seen the five generations, the father and mother of 
the five brothers, their five sons, a score of grand- 
children, several great-grandchildren, and a half 
a dozen great-great-grandchildren ; some of these 
last are of full age. The five brothers were all 
born in the same latitude and longitude, and all but 
one in the same State and town, lived and labored 
and preached in the same territory, and breathed 
their last members of the same church, elders in 
the same church, in the bounds of the old Genesee 
Conference. They lived to be over threescore and 
ten, each of them. They were always good friends, 
and remained so until they went to the other 
world. They all retained their reason until the 
last. They were all large men, and weighed ten 
hundred pounds. I never read of five such broth- 
ers, and I never shall. 

I shrink from writing another book, and felt sure 
that I never would until forty-eight hours ago. 
To-day the clouds obscure the sun. The foliage 
of the trees has died, and the autumn winds have 
swept the grapevine bare. The chrysanthemums 



have yielded to the biting frosts and the singing 
birds are gone, and I write, prompted by no man, 
woman, or child, under a roof whose tiles my own 
hands laid sixteen months ago ; and I pray the 
eternal Spirit to guide my thoughts and make my 
hand steady while I alone portray these marvelous 
mundane happenings. I ask no wonderful embel- 
lishing power to write fiction, for there will not be 
a line of fiction in this story. The realities have 
already strode under the sun, and the heroes have 
fought their battle and taken their crowns, and the 
world quakes under the grand march of empires. 

The people rule, and the great Sovereign reigns 
over all. 


The First Luther Peck* 

LET me take off my hat and make my best bow 
and introduce the reader to Luther Peck — 
the first Luther Peck in the world's history, named 
after the sturdy Protestant who shook the nations 
and dashed the Romish yoke from his neck. The 
subject of this chapter was born in Danbury, Conn., 
on Friday, June 12, 1767, not in the United States, 
for there was no United States — indeed, there were 
no States. Luther Peck was before the United 
States, before the Constitution, before the immor- 
tal Declaration of Independence, before Lexington 
or Bunker Hill, before the national banner was flung 
to the breeze. His father's name was Jesse Peck, 
and his mother's maiden name was Ruth Hoyt. 
His grandfather's name was Eliphalet Peck, and 
his grandmother's name was Rebecca. The Hoyts 
of Tioga County, N. Y., were near relatives of 
Ruth Hoyt, and one was a brother. He was quite 
old in the year 1856, was justice of the peace and 
postmaster in the town where I preached early in 
my ministry, and all the Hoyts were among the 
best citizens of the place. They were enterprising 
and honest business men. One of them is to-day 

10 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

supervisor of the town of Tioga. The Hoyts of 
this old town of Kingston are sprung from the same 
Connecticut family. They were among the pio- 
neers of Wyoming Valley, proud sons and daugh- 
ters of the soil, and hold their place to-day among 
the best, and I write these lines surrounded by 
their fine dwellings and comfortable homes ; I meet 
them every day. One is a member of the town 
council and a president of that body, and Henry 
M. Hoyt was a student in Wyoming Seminary and 
afterward an instructor in the school, and was in 
the late civil war and rose to be a general and gov- 
ernor of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In 
our young days he did not know that the Hoyt 
blood mingled in my veins, though we sat side by 
side in class. He died without knowing it, and I 
did not know it until his decease. Any of us 
would rather have a good thirty-second cousin than 
a bad one. Blood will tell through many genera- 
tions. Luther Peck, the first, was the subject of 
his royal highness King George III, and as we 
learned in our early school days, " George rex, 
George the King.' 5 When thirteen years of age he 
was thrilled by the eloquence of John Adams and 
Patrick Henry. He heard the strains of " Yankee 
Doodle" in place of " God Save the King." He 
caught the strains and soon learned to whistle 
them, and then soon learned to produce the notes 
from the shrill fife, and this, with the flute, was his 
musical instrument for threescore years. His old 
flute lies before me as I write, and the music has 
gone out of it and his deft fingers have long lain 

The First Luther Peck. 


He passed his boyish days in the " times that 
tried men's souls," and they tried boys' souls. His 
father died in Washington's army, a volunteer sol- 
dier for his country, and Ruth Hoyt was left a 
widow with ten children, seven sons and three 
daughters, and he the youngest of the sons. It 
was work or starve. The widow rocked the cradle 
with one foot and turned the linen wheel with the 
other and spun with her hands in the log cabin, 
and every one of those children was schooled in 
hard industry as soon as they came to working age. 
The dark day came in May, 1780, and the children 
cried for protection and the heart of that noble 
woman quailed not. The boys carried burdens 
that the father had laid aside. This one, the 
youngest boy, Luther, was " bound out " for a term 
of years, or until he should become of age, to work 
every week day for the summer and the winter, not 
for his father, but for another man. The mother 
was no more to set a plate or bowl for him, except 
on one of his visits home on an occasional Sunday. 
On those days he could practice on his fife and 
flute and rest ; but Monday morning brought the 
very hard work at the forge and a very frugal meal, 
very blue milk maybe, and the hard crumbs of corn 
bread, and the crumbs as few as possible. The 
music of the six days was the sound of the hammer 
and sledge upon the anvil, the puffing of the bel- 
lows, and the prancing of unruly horses and colts, 
which were awfully nervous when nails were driven 
into their feet. These exciting scenes kept up the 
boy's spirits for a few years ; but the meager spread 
on the table made him homesick, and no wonder. 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

It is a universal complaint on such occasions. I 
know of what I speak. We are not the least as- 
tonished to learn that the young man was anxious 
for his twenty-first birthday to hurry up. He 
could not leave the forge for fifteen minutes to as- 
sist a certain neighbor's girl to drag a stick of wood 
through the snow, though he longed very much to 
lend a helping hand. Her mother was a soldier's 
widow as well as was his, and her young hands 
dragged the wood to the little cabin to keep the 
frost from the hearthstone while her mother was 
struggling to keep the wolf from the cabin, with 
the wail of a sickly infant sounding a dirge con- 
tinually in her weary ears. The child brother of 
the young girl could not help crying, and so the 
hours went by. The only house organ was the 
mewling, sickly infant brother, and between those 
minor notes the buzz of the spinning wheel and 
the crackling of the fire on the hearth. The girl 
was coming to womanhood and wondering if ever 
the time would come when life would be worth liv- 
ing, hoping, yes, believing, that better days would 
come. Here a romance commences. 

The scene is the country town of Danbury, 
Conn. Luther Peck offers to bind himself by in- 
denture to pay his master one hundred dollars in 
cash for his freedom from that day on. The man 
hesitates and consults his frugal wife, and finally 
accepts the offer and the papers are passed, signed, 
sealed, and delivered. The glad tidings of this 
emancipation found way into the widowed moth- 
er's humble home and made her heart much lighter, 
and made several brothers' and sisters' faces glow 

The First Luther Peck. 


with joy, and the story was not long in traveling 
with hurried feet into the cottage where the young 
lady friend gathered new hope for the future, a 
future which had risen up before her with a hag- 
gard front. That early spring was a little sweeter 
than the one of a year ago. The bluebirds sang 
a little sweeter than before, the sickly infant cried 
less frequently. The war was over, and the tired 
soldiers who survived the struggle for an independ- 
ent country and had survived the terrible small- 
pox came tramping home with blistered feet, and 
the mother of Luther Peck and the mother of An- 
nis Collar, both widowed, shed their tears of sym- 
pathy as they reflected that their husbands had 
gone to honored graves and their country was free. 
Annis Collar could now have two strong arms to 
help her in gathering wood for the fireplace, and 
Luther Peck, the young blacksmith, could play 
more tunes on his fife than he could before he had 
become freed from his master, and the sickly little 
child could be soothed to its slumbers by the wild 
martial music of the friend and lover of sweet sister 

These two young friends, after the child and the 
weary mother had quieted down to their slumbers, 
told each other in whispered sentences their hopes 
and trusted to one another their secrets as the fire 
blazed on the humble hearth. 

The boy became a man, a freeman, and w r ork ac- 
cumulated and was not turned away. The one 
hundred dollars must be paid. He had a shop on 
a convenient spot for the people of the town and 
surrounding country ; maybe a plot was rent free, 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

or maybe the shop stood in the street, no matter 
which ; he had a forge, an anvil, tongs, a bellows, 
and other tools, some of them contributed by 
neighbors and friends, some borrowed, some bought 
on trust, and others made by himself. The money 
in circulation was worth very little, and there was 
very little of it. Luther Peck shod horses, made log 
chains and fire shovels, sharpened harrow teeth, 
ironed whiffletrees and ox yokes, shod sleds and 
set wagon tires, hooped tubs and pails, forged 
sawmill irons, and made nails to fasten weather- 
boards on houses and shops and sheds. He made 
pickaxes and grub hoes and crowbars for the peo- 
ple to dig wells and graves, and made the horse- 
shoes, hundreds of them, that brought good luck 
and filled the sack with meal and paid off the hun- 
dred dollar mortgage on his muscles. The young 
lady at the widow's home had already learned to 
spin yarn out of flax, tow, and wool, and was now 
knitting and weaving to be ready for her prospec- 
tive bridal day, selling the surplus to the neigh- 
bors for barley or corn or potatoes for her loved 
mother's use in the log cabin. The fife was tuned 
up occasionally in two humble homes in old Dan- 
bury. The two young people had commenced a 
fight for life and fortune, and, whether it was a 
hard fight or a walk-over, there was to be no cry 
to halt until success was achieved or the weary 
hands were still in death. The interesting day for 
the social event came, the fire was raked up on the 
forge, the bellows ceased to blow T , and the wheel 
was unbanded in the bride's home. The two 
walked to the minister's home and were married, 

The First Luther Peck. 


September 27, 1787. The officiating clergyman 
was Joseph Peck, and, being a relative, he did not 
exact a large fee, if indeed he exacted any — it was 
all in the family. The bridal dress was all wool and 
the cloth and the dress were made by the bride's 
mother, assisted by the bride herself. If there was 
a wedding ring it was not gold, and if there was a 
wedding cake it was a johnnycake made of corn 
meal mixed with water and a little salt ; neverthe- 
less it was sufficient, and, though baked before the 
open fireplace, it was warm and rich and filled the 
bill. When the two left the parsonage and entered 
the bride's home the bounteous meal was smoking 
on the board. The coffee was roasted corn with 
milk, but no sugar. The wedding march was the 
march home from the parsonage, and if there was 
instrumental music it was made on the fife. The 
infare may have been accompanied by tin pans, 
probably not, and no one living knows for certain. 
One thing is certain, that in that very year the 
Constitution of the United States was formed and 
adopted, and two years later George Washington 
became President. 

The young man was born the year after Barbara 
Heck burned the pack of playing cards and Philip 
Embury organized the first Methodist society on 
the soil of the new continent, composed of five 
persons, and that society was not known to him 
nor to his young wife even after they were joined 
in holy matrimony. The fourteen years preceding 
the eventful year of 1787 had resulted in the ex- 
panding of that little society to a Church of twenty- 
two thousand members and one hundred and thirty 

16 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

ministers. About this year Thomas Coke and 
Francis Asbury were chosen bishops over the soci- 
eties North and South and West. This couple 
called upon a Presbyterian clergyman for his aid, 
knowing no other in the town. 

There was no bridal tour to Saratoga or Niagara 
or Long Branch. The great, wonderful cataract 
probably they never saw, and never regretted that 
they could not see it. Their honeymoon was 
passed at their home, and it was a sweet home and 
that honeymoon had never an eclipse. Their days 
were working days, and if they had a day off it was 
filled up in doing kind deeds and lending a helping 
hand to friends and relatives. They never were 
afflicted with witches, and never went to the hang- 
ings of any. They could not spare the time or 
money. The United States money came to be 
worth more as the years passed, but it was very 
scarce. They paid off the apprenticeship mortgage 
by hard work and rigid economy, and even then 
they did not celebrate the event by a vacation, but 
thanked God and took courage. When six years 
of wedded life had passed Luther Peck's home had 
been brightened by the coming of three sweet 
daughters, bright angels of the fireside, every one 
of them greeted with joy, for their music and 
smiles were to make the days brighter for the years 
to come. Two more years and a son was born. 
He was cherished and loved by the father and 
mother and carried in the arms of those sisters 
while the mother was turning the wheel of fortune 
and the father was tugging at the feet of all kinds 
of horses, wild, tame, and stubborn. The new boy 

The First Luther Peck. 


was called Luther Hoyt Peck, so that he could 
carry the cognomens of his father and his grand- 
mother. They gave these three girls and the in- 
fant boy in baptism even before the father's heart 
was given to the Lord. The mother was prayerful 
in secret, and every day felt herself buoyed up by 
an Almighty arm. A year later this happy and 
hard-working couple took their journey one hun- 
dred miles west into the wilderness of the State of 
New York, and took their four children with them. 
They passed over Putnam, Dutchess, Columbia, 
Greene, Schoharie Counties, and settled in the town 
of Middlefield, Otsego County, then a wilderness 
almost trackless, built a log house and moved into it, 
lived in it, and worked in it. They had ventilation 
and plenty of fresh air. They had fresh water, and 
plenty of it. They had swings out of doors and 
merry-go-rounds and seesaws that were constructed 
by the girls themselves. They rode horseback on 
pretend horses made of small trees bent down. 
They sang solos and choruses, they heard bird 
songs, not from the canaries in cages, but little wild 
birds in the tree tops. They gathered leaves and 
flowers in the wild forest and wild berries, and ate 
them from the bushes and chased the timid hare 
and swift-footed squirrel away from the cottage 
door and fed crumbs to the robin in spring and the 
snowbird in winter. "The smith's hammer was 
heard upon the anvil " and the wheel of fortune 
spun on every week day, and at long intervals the 
fife was summoned to echo the chirp of the blue- 
jay or the whippoorwill or the hoot of the great 

night owl or the drumming of the partridge. In 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

fact, the family had a picnic the year round. The 
children could run with bare feet around the house 
and out of doors without having the finger of scorn 
pointed at them. The older girls could hide their 
feet in the brown leaves when the mail carrier 
passed or when the neighbor or stranger came to 
the shop for his iron wedge and beetle for splitting 
rails. Happy father, faithful mother, loving chil- 
dren. The proud denizens of the great cities would 
give hundreds to have a week of such refreshing 
joy as they had for months together. The land 
was theirs, the trees were theirs, the birds and little 
wild animals were theirs. The house and shop 
were theirs, and the stairs which led to the upper 
chamber were theirs, and the circle of the sun and 
the pale stars were theirs, and the brook with the 
tiny fish. There a second son came upon the 
stage of action, and was named George. Whether 
he was named for King George is not known. 
Certainly it is not known to the writer of these 
lines. If he had been named for Washington it 
would seem that he would have carried the W„ but 
that W. never appeared in his name that ever I 
knew ; so I am left to infer that he was named after 
the king. There were few George Pecks in the 
vast catalogue numbering hundreds, and while his 
father was the first Luther he was almost the first 
George. There were a great many Jacob Pecks 
and Simons and Simeons, Matthews, Marks, Lukes, 
and Johns, Jobs, Jonathans ; in fact, every name in 
the whole Bible has been attached to some one 
of the vast army of Pecks, every name except Ju- 
das Iscariot, and none of them was ever heard to 

The First Luther Peck. 


express regrets that Judas was left out of the family ; 
and no wonder, for the traitors in the family are 
few and far between, and I have not wondered that 
there are so many preachers in the list, especially 
since I have seen that they carry the whole cate- 
gory of Bible names on their family tree. And 
this family of eleven had a Rachel and a Martha, 
and we recognize in the genealogical line Rebecca 
and a hundred Marys, Lois, Lydia, Esther, Sarah, 
Anna, and so on. The records of the sojourn of 
Luther Peck and his family in the wilderness of 
Middlefield, in their first log residence, are quite 
meager, but they are sufficient for our purposes. 
They had a family Bible and a family record be- 
tween the lids. 

The children built houses out of sticks and little 
stones, played church and school. The girls wove 
red berries into their hair, and made for their necks 
strings of beads from the matured buds from wild 
rose bushes ; made fans out of the hemlock boughs 
taken from the little trees and other fans from the 
larger leaves of the burdock, and made baskets out 
of the burs. They played fox and geese with ker- 
nels of corn, with a red kernel for the fox. The 
cat's cradle was constructed out of strings stretched 
on their fingers. The winter evenings were made 
bright by such games as hide and seek and pussy 
wants a corner and telling stories of Red Riding 
Hood or reciting old Mother Hubbard's trouble 
with her dog. Amid such scenes and surroundings 
George Peck was born. As the traveler takes his 
way from the village of Cherry Valley toward 
Cooperstown he will soon pass the birthplace, a 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

little to the left of the turnpike, two miles east of 
Middlefield Center. Now these country girls have 
another little brother to care for and to occupy a 
place in their circle. But a sojourn in this roman- 
tic spot so dear to the children must be of short 
duration. The family is a movable family, and the 
children are all itinerants. Their first move was 
one hundred miles toward the Northwest in a 
straight line, but a good many more miles than 
that by any road they could then travel. This 
next move was to be only two miles. So, selling 
their land, house, and shop, they packed up their 
goods and chattels and went to Middlefield Center. 
The house had already been built on the knoll at 
the right of the turnpike and several rods from it. 
The plot was a triangle, with its eastern corner at 
the place where the schoolhouse now stands, and 
where it has stood for nearly ninety years. The 
northern corner was where the great elm tree now 
stands and has stood since the family moved there. 
The south corner is where the present line fence 
makes a corner with the road line, a hundred feet 
or so from the foot of the little hill which is de- 
scended as soon as one passes the schoolhouse on 
the way to Cooperstown. Eight years ago, or in 
the summer of 1886, I walked over and around that 
triangular farm and stood under the spreading 
arms of that ancient elm and walked around the 
school-house. I approached the ancient well 
almost breathlessly and asked my friend, " Is this 
really the Luther Peck well ? " and he responded 
promptly, " It certainly is." I looked down into 
its depths for several seconds and grasped an apple 

The First Luther Peck. 


that hung on a limb that reached out over the well, 
so that the apple would have fallen into the water 
if it had been shaken from the tree. There had 
hung the old oaken bucket, the ironbound bucket 
that had made its hourly trips into the deep shaft 
and as often returned laden with the cool beverage, 
and I knew that the ironbound bucket was bound 
by the bands that Grandfather Peck made, and I 
knew further that all the sons and daughters of Lu- 
ther Peck had seen their faces reflected from the 
surface of that natural mirror in its stone frame 
and that they all had slaked their thirst from its 
healthful waters ; and I knew further that every 
itinerant minister that had traveled along that old 
turnpike for seventeen years had drank water from 
that well. There Freeborn Garrettson, Jonathan 
Newman, David Dunham, Matthew Van Dusen, 
Benomi Harris, the odd and strange, short and 
loud-voiced ; Benjamin Bidlack, the warrior ; Asa 
Cummings, Seth Mattison, and a great many oth- 
ers, had drank from that well and gone. The silent 
face of the water could not speak to me, and it told 
no story. Rachel had met her lover often at this 
well, and so had Martha. Father White and Loren 
Grant had drank there, the former the spiritual 
father of nearly all the family, and the latter a very 
near friend of all the children. On this little three- 
cornered farm, in the home where love reigned su- 
preme, were born Andrew Peck, William Peck, and 
Jesse Truesdell Peck. Andrew, April 29, 1800, the 
first born in the nineteenth century ; William, De- 
cember 7, 1802 ; and Jesse T., April 4, 181 1 ; Mary, 
Anna, and Susanna were also born here. 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

This historic spot is only an hour's walk from the 
place where the Deerslayer rested at the outlet of 
Otsego Lake and the source of the immortal Sus- 
quehanna River, rendered famous by the versatile 
writer, Fenimore Cooper. There nearly all the 
sons and daughters were converted, certainly all 
that were old enough. Here the older Connecticut 
girls, who came more than a hundred miles into 
the New York forest, who ran in the woods and 
covered their bare feet with leaves and rode pre- 
tend horses, were both led to the altar as blushing 
brides. Here was the place where all kneeled on 
the bare floor in daily prayer at the family altar. 
Here Luther Hoyt Peck learned to turn the lucky 
horseshoe under the instruction of his father. 
Here he learned to play the fife and the other 
brothers learned to beat the double roll on the 
drum. Then the drum corps became one of the 
institutions of the town. This was the first band 
of music organized in Otsego County, and when 
the militia had their annual parades and were in- 
spected by the brigade inspector the blacksmith's 
sons were on hand at roll call to march at the head 
of the brigade and make music for the whole regi- 
ment and for all the children in- the range of hear- 
ing. The Peck boys could wake up the sleepiest 
man or the sleepiest child in the whole town, and 
" when the drum beat at dead of night " people 
knew where to locate the blame. On this spot the 
boys commenced their literary labors with much 
reluctance and with diverse urgings and compel- 
lings. When the boy played sick he was nursed 
and doctored by the mother until the other children 

The First Luther Peck. 


had gone to school, then he became better, and 
if the disease was, after a thorough diagnosis, dis- 
covered to be a sudden attack of schoolphobia 
the next attack was cured in time for the school 

Luther Hoyt Peck was so fully employed in his 
father's shop that his school days were quite lim- 
ited, yet with persistent effort he mastered the alpha- 
bet and spelling sufficiently to read slowly, and he 
attacked the arithmetic and tugged along as far as 
pounds, shillings, and pence. He could write a 
legible hand, spell the words quite correctly, gen- 
erally. I put these few items in here because they 
refer to transactions prior to their coming to years 
of manhood. One day Luther Hoyt was in the 
schoolroom trying hard to solve some arithmetical 
proposition during the recess ; he heard a call, 
" Peck, come out and I will lay you on your back ; 
come out and I will throw you. O, you daresn't ! " 
The challenge was more than his blood could 
stand, and, knowing that he had held the hind feet 
of horses whose weight was near half a ton, he 
went out and was not long in making up a match. 
The boys were looking on, expecting to see some 
fun. They had not long to wait; Hoyt's left arm 
was soon around the boastful champion's neck. 
" Say when you are ready." " Yes, all ready," and 
in less than a breath the champion was pulling 
himself up from the frozen ground with damaged 
shoulder and elbow, ribs, back, and a more dam- 
aged reputation, while Peck went into the school- 
room to finish his "sum." 

History records the fact that Luther Peck was 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

for many years a class leader, and distinguished 
for the zeal and fidelity with which he discharged 
his duties and the interest which he took in the 
cause of Christianity, and that he and his wife and 
children composed a remarkable family. It would 
be difficult to say in this year of our Lord, with 
the facts of the domestic circle and all the other 
facts in my mind, what constituted the remarkable- 
ness of the head of the family. He was an honest 
man, so everybody said who knew him. He was 
an industrious man, hard-working and economical. 
All this can be said of a great many men the world 
over. He was not cross-eyed or crossgrained. He 
was remarkable for being like other men, and not 
being peculiar. He did not walk in his sleep nor 
study the stars nights. He was not like the learned 
blacksmith, yet he was a blacksmith. He never 
spent time trying to invent perpetual motion. He 
had his hair cut like other men of his time. He 
did not sleep in the daytime and work nights. He 
never walked a rope across Niagara Falls nor tamed 
lions nor charmed rattlesnakes. He was not an 
Edison nor a Blondin. He never hunted the North 
Pole nor plowed the seashore nor sowed salt. He 
never would have been a success in a dime mu- 
seum or a circus or a side show or a minstrel show, 
and he was remarkable for never trying to be re- 
markable. He never tried to work a horse and an 
ox yoked together. He ate what was proper to 
eat, if he could get it, and drank as other men did. 
Indeed, he was a remarkable man, and remarkably 
like other men. He was a Vulcan, but did not try 
to forge thunderbolts. He was a real Vulcan, and 

The First Luther Peck. 


not a mythological one. He visited the haunts of 
Leather Stocking, and took his two oldest sons 
with him ; but it was not to see the Indian, but to 
see a murderer hung. A minister preached a ser- 
mon personally to the criminal while the rope was 
tied around his neck. The text was, " This day shalt 
thou be with me in paradise/' After he had 
proved to the condemned man that the text was 
true in his case, lo and behold, the fellow was not 
hanged, for the governor had sent a pardon in time 
to save him. The crowd captured a dog and hung 
him in order to have a hanging. George Peck and 
his older brother and their kind-hearted father 
looked on but did not help. 

They could look into the face of beautiful Otsego 
Lake, which lay smiling at their feet. A brief 
look was sufficient, and, without a glance at the 
Indian's home, they went to their home. This is 
the only vacation of the family on record for thirty 
years or more. That three-cornered lot was the 
scene of hard work and economy for many years. 
The scenes where the red men in Leather Stocking 
tales, immortalized by Cooper, played their part in 
life's drama lay three miles west of this three-cor- 
nered lot. Cherry Valley, where Joseph Brant and 
his followers had spread terror and death and deso- 
lation, lay about the same distance east ; so the 
family of the faithful class leader lived and labored 
in historic times and also in historic places. The 
father was not present at the execution of Major 
John Andre, though he was only twenty-five miles 
away and fourteen years of age. And he was not 
at the Boston tea party, though he was six years 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

old when it occurred. Probably he was not in- 
vited, and his whole life was spent where his du- 
ties were, and he very seldom left his own humble 
home in search of pleasure or sensation. A re- 
markably common, everyday man. 

" Week in, week out, from morn till night 

You can hear the bellows blow ; 
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge 

With measured beat and low. 

u And children coming home from school 

Look in at the open door ; 
They love to see the flaming forge 

And hear the bellows roar, 
And catch the burning sparks that fly 

Like chaff from a threshing-floor." 

He was more interested in his leather apron than 
in Leather Stocking. Day after day the hammer 
smote the iron, striking when the iron was hot ; and 
when his meal was ready he would lay off his apron 
and greet his large family of happy children at the 
table, ask the blessing of the bounteous Father 
upon them, partake of the meal, and return to his 
work. There was never a horseshoe hung over the 
door in his house, for the reason that he had not 
learned the modern art of bringing good luck. He 
would play upon his fife " Bonaparte's March " and 
" Bonaparte Crossing the Alps/' as well as " Yankee 
Doodle/' because of the music in the tunes, and be- 
cause the French general, Lafayette, came to the 
assistance of Washington in those dark days which 
he could well remember. He forged the irons that 
were driven into the jams of the fireplace, and 

The First Luther Peck. 


made the crane that was hung in them and the 
hooks to hang the kettle on and the bail of the 
kettle. All the kettles of those days came from 
the store or the furnace without bails, and the vil- 
lage blacksmith was mustered in to bail them. 
The brass kettles had to be hooped as well as 
bailed, and the work was skillfully done because he 
had learned the trade. The hoop was made to fit 
the kettle at its upper rim. Two ears were made, 
one on each side of the hoop, and the hoop welded 
just large enough to be easily pushed nearly to the 
top of the brass vessel, and it was put to its proper 
place a little warm, or maybe hot. Then it would 
cool and become perfectly tight. Then the edge 
of the brass would be hammered neatly down over 
the hoop. The bail was forged and filed smooth 
and attached to the ears, and the kettle was ready 
for use. Several years ago one of the sons of Lu- 
ther Peck wrote to me, describing the house, shop, 
and little farm, and wound up his letter in this 
way : " We shod all the horses between Coopers- 
town and Cherry Valley and the surrounding coun- 
try. There we lived and worked and were con- 
verted and flourished and made a fortune/' They 
built a frame house to supersede the log one, plac- 
ing it down nearer the highway than the old one 
had been, and from the rafters of that incompleted 
house George came near falling and losing his life, 
having been made dizzy by the drink which the 
carpenters were using daily in small quantities. 
George had not yet learned the difference between 
that beverage and the fluid which the moss-cov- 
ered bucket brought up from the well. 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

The boys loved the woods, and one Sunday 
George and a younger brother tried their hands at 
running away, and succeeded first-rate until a forest 
tree, broken by the winds of heaven, came crashing 
down upon them, and as they pulled themselves 
out from the brush and leaves they were sadder and 
much wiser and very much frightened. They had 
not learned that the forest was loaded. 

But what of the mother during these days and 
scenes ? She could hear the reveille from her 
drummer boys without alarm, and was proud of 
their growing skill in martial music ; yet she was 
anxious about them. The new house was finally 
finished as fully as they were able to finish it, and 
several pairs of willing hands were employed in 
transferring the furniture to the new house. The 
fire shovel, the crane and hooks, all made by the 
skill of the father, the chairs and table, the trundle- 
bed and cradle and the homemade splint broom, 
the brass kettle and the dishes for the table and 
knives and forks were moved ; the carving knife 
made at the forge, and tempered like a razor and 
almost as sharp. The girls transferred their ward- 
robe to the new chamber without the trouble of 
going up stairs, for the ground was such that the 
path from the old house led past the well and into 
the chamber door in the rear of the new house. 
The living room was below and nearly on a level 
with the highway. The schoolhouse, just up the 
hill, east, became the parsonage by boards being 
laid for a floor overhead, where the minister and 
his wife could sleep, and the minister's wife was 
the school-teacher. Luther Peck was a friend to 

The First Luther Peck. 29 

education, and even before New York State had a 
school law they managed to have a school in Mid- 
dlefield, and the schoolhouse was moved twice, 
drawn by several yoke of oxen. The village black- 
smith made the strong iron chains that were fas- 
tened to each corner of the east end of the build- 
ing. It was drawn from its place down the turn- 
pike, up past the Peck residence, up the hill, and 
finally settled on the east corner of the mechanic's 
lot. There was wonderful power in those dozen 
yoke of oxen. The staples and rings of the yokes 
were forged in the shop nearby, and there was 
strength enough in the combination to pull the 
schoolhouse with a good-sized man seated upon 
the ridge. The iron for those chains and those 
rings was named " swedes " iron, and the ring 
would seldom break and the weld was welded to 
stay. The chains were made from wide, flat bars 
of iron. The bar was first heated to a white heat, 
then the long-handled chisel was brought into 
requisition, next the heavy sledge wielded by the 
man or boy who struck ; and the wide bar was thus 
changed into three or four nearly square bars, and 
these were rounded and made of uniform size, and 
the chain was made by cutting off pieces the right 
length. These being doubled, linked together, and 
welded, the chain was done. All this is done by 
machinery now. Schoolhouses are now built by 
public money, for the people are rich and the 
school taxes are paid. Luther Peck plied the 
smith's hammer all the day, early and late, fifteen 
hours a day, to feed and clothe his children. He 
helped build and move the schoolhouse and helped 

30 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

pay the teachers and fed them from his own table ; 
they boarded round, and five or six weeks' board 
per year would be about fair for the number of 
children he sent. The remark of the mother was 
frequently made, "The boys must have knowl- 
edge." They were taking music lessons frequently, 
both instrumental and vocal, and were giving les- 
sons in both ; but this did not satisfy the mother 
especially ; she was looking into the future. Her 
brother was the sickly, crying infant of early days 
grown to manhood, but was rather under size, but 
had learned to make leather shoes in his mother's 
cottage. His name was Isaac, and his troubles 
came and accumulated as the years passed. Then 
his dear, patient, loving mother sickened and died. 
Then he was left alone. His last friend was gone. 
His only sister Annis, who had married Luther 
Peck, had moved into the State of New York and 
had a large family. Where could the boy go ? No- 
where, except to the sister's home one hundred 
miles away. Then commenced the long journey 
West, and after weary days he found his sister in 
her comfortable home. There he rested and drank 
from the well and ate his meals with the happy 
family of his sister, who carried him in her arms in 
the dark times of the Revolution. He remained 
in the family until his death, and did some work. 
He had brought his violin, awl, and last and sharp 
knife and hammer, and among them they con 
structed a bench, and George, the second son, actu- 
ally learned the trade of St. Crispin. The oldest 
boy, Luther, was too constantly employed in the 
other employment to pay much attention to the 

The First Luther Peck. 31 

" shoe business/* and yet Luther H. actually could 
and did make some respectable shoes that were not 
horseshoes. Uncle Isaac did the most of the finer 
work for the whole family. When he was converted 
he had more use for his awl than he had for his 
fiddle in that Christian home. The girls had not 
learned to dance, even though their Uncle Isaac 
tried to persuade them to commence to take a 
course of instruction in the dancing art. He 
thought they were plenty old enough to learn that 
art, and yet he was quite sure they were too young 
to think of commencing to live Christian lives. 
One day Rachel Peck invited her little Uncle Isaac 
to go with the family to a prayer meeting, and he 
consented, and while there he heard strange things. 
He heard a girl of fourteen years pray in public. 
That was more than he had ever heard even from 
a mature woman. The girl was no other than his 
niece, Rachel Peck. He was amazed, and then 
powerfully convicted as the prayer of the girl went 
on. It was not a studied composition, yet there 
was genuine eloquence in it. She gave thanks to 
her heavenly Father for his boundless love to sin- 
ners and for the hopes of heaven. She asked for 
strength to resist temptations. She prayed ear- 
nestly for all who were rushing on in the w r ay of 
death, and then with earnestness and pathos she 
implored God's blessing upon her dear uncle. His 
unbelieving heart was broken. She had been the 
evangelist to save him, and he in turn became the 
evangelist among those boys of the drum corps. 
He could not work on his Connecticut violin, and 
so he hung it up, and the bow was thereafter quiet 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

and silent. There had been no learned discussions 
as to female evangelists, yet here was one, and the 
poor dwarfed uncle was among her first fruits. Her 
grandmother, Ruth Hoyt Peck, had heard the voice 
of Jesse Lee as he swept like a flaming herald through 
New England, and she told the family of her son, 
who was laying plans for moving into the wilder- 
ness of New York, that the Methodists were the 
people of God, and thus the family were prepared 
to give the early itinerants a candid hearing. Lu- 
ther Peck's home became the home of the minis- 
ters and also the preaching place for the public 
meetings, his family forming a large portion of the 
first society in that neighborhood ; nine of them 
were members, including the uncle, Isaac Collar. 
The minister was glad of a temporary home in the 
mechanic's large family ; yet there would be very 
little opportunity for study in such a family, espe- 
cially with the headquarters of the military band 
so near. A parsonage must be provided. The 
upper loft in the itinerant schoolhouse was the first 
parsonage, and Brother Peck was very glad to help 
lay the attic floor, which was all the building there 
was to do ; still, as a parsonage it was not a bril- 
liant success, especially for a preacher with a fam- 
ily. What shall be done ? Well, Luther Peck had 
got his hand in as a log house builder. The tall, 
straight trees were all around, so the new parson- 
age was built. The woodman's ax resounded, the 
trees were felled, the logs were measured off and 
notched exactly, a place was cut out for a door and 
another for a window ; the door was made, nailed 
by wrought nails with flat heads, and the hinges, 

The First Luther Peck. 


made in the same shop, after being put in their 
proper places swung the door ; a latch with a string 
attached completed the first parsonage in the old 
Genesee Conference, and soon Benjamin Bidlack 
came upon the charge and moved in ; but very little 
of his time could be spent there, for his headquar- 
ters were in the saddle. I knew the old soldier in 
Kingston when he had retired. His house stood 
in sight of our kitchen door. In that house he 
breathed his last way back in 1845, an ^ now, after 
fifty years, I have looked on and seen the beams 
torn from their fastenings and a fine new house 
built in its place, while near the old Forty Fort 
Church stands the white slab which marks the spot 
of his burial. Luther Peck helped build the first 
parsonage he lived in. The five sons were charmed 
by the thunder of his voice, and listened to the war 
stories of the Revolution. One of them was the story 
of who Washington took the sword of Cornwallis at 
Yorktown. Bidlack was a soldier there. The spot 
where that log parsonage was built is in plain sight of 
that triangular spot where three ministers were born ; 
two of them became presiding elders and one a 
bishop. The lives of the father and mother are the 
most marvelous parts of this whole marvelous story, 
and the mother stands as fully in front as the father. 

As I come to the time and place in this narrative 
where I must put on record the heart throbs of this 
remarkable woman I feel as if I must walk with 
unsandaled feet. The ground is holy. The watch- 
ing, hoping, praying, working, thinking, reasoning, 
struggling, the long crying, and believing are his- 
tory ; but a great part of it will forever remain 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

unrecorded history except as the recording angel 
places his seal upon it. My soul is almost too full 
for utterance. Where are the inspired chroniclers 
who wrote in living letters of blazing light? Of 
course a few sentences will tell the whole story. 
The birth and the uneventful childhood, the gath- 
ering of a little frosty wood every day for a fire, 
the watchfulness over a sickly infant brother, lend- 
ing a hand to a widowed mother, courtship and 
marriage to a bound-out blacksmith, a few years of 
housekeeping and a move to a wilderness far away, 
and then another a little farther, several years of 
cooking and mending, then another farther yet, 
then a visit to her oldest son's, then a visit to her 
youngest son's home among the Green Mountains 
of Vermont, then a quiet death, with her weary 
head pillowed on the strong arm of that youngest 
son ; so the fifth act closes the drama with the 
day. And is this the finale ? It may be as the 
world goes, but a thousand times " No " comes the 
response to the question, " Is that all ? " 

In that humble residence on that triangular plot 
where the elm tree is and the old well gave forth 
its living water, where the drumbeat was so often 
heard and the ring of the anvil made music of an- 
other kind, where the cinders remain after a lapse 
of a hundred years and those cinders have been 
crushed by careless feet during the century, lived 
this faithful woman ; yet after all these things have 
been told there are greater things to be told. 

" Some angel guide my pencil while I draw 
What nothing else than angel can exceed — 
A child of earth devoted to the skies." 

The First Luther Peck. 


She remained on the earth as long as she could, 
and never for a moment desired to depart until 
her work was done ; weary often, yet not surren- 
dering. She had a mind strong and remarkably 
even balanced. She thought much and prayed 
more. She had the spirit of a martyr and a face 
as bright as an angel from heaven. She had a con- 
science as tender as that of Barbara Heck and 
more power of organization than she had. Her 
home was a house of prayer whether the husband 
was home or not. She had the faith such as is 
described by the poet— 

" That will not shrink, 

Though pressed by every foe, 
That will not tremble on the brink 

Of any earthly woe. 
That bears, unmoved, the world's dread frown, 

Nor heeds its scornful smile; 
That seas of trouble cannot drown, 

Nor Satan's arts beguile. 
A faith that shines more bright and clear 

When tempests rage without ; 
That when in danger knows no fear, 

In darkness feels no doubt. 
A faith that keeps the narrow way 

Till life's last hour is fled, 
And with a pure and heavenly ray 

Illumes a dying bed." 

She had the administrative power of Queen Victo- 
ria, and without the gorgeous surroundings. She 
had the power of Joan of Arc and Charlotte Cor- 
day, but directed in a different direction. She had 
the deep piety of Mary Fletcher and Hester Ann 
Rogers. And her influence in instilling the spirit 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

of reformation into her sons was more than was 
Susannah Wesley's, because she sent five sons into 
the ministry while Mrs. Wesley sent two, and with 
hard duties confronting her every day in a very 
humble and unpretentious home, while Mrs. Wesley 
lived like a queen and dressed like a queen. Mrs. 
Wesley was devout, thoughtful, amiable, and beauti- 
ful ; so was Annis Collar. Mrs. Wesley was the 
favorite child of her father, but Annis Collar's fa- 
ther was in a soldier's grave while as yet she was 
a child. Mrs. Wesley was acquainted with the 
Greek, Latin, and French languages, while Annis 
Collar knew only the language in which she was 
born ; yet she did five times as much as Mrs. Wes- 
ley did with very many more discouragements. 
Mrs. Wesley w^s descended from a family boasting 
of highbred aristocracy, while Annis Collar claimed 
no relationship except to the sturdy sons of toil in 
the wilds of America. Mrs. Wesley taught her 
two sons to repeat the Lord's Prayer at her side ; 
Annis Peck taught five sons and six daughters the 
same prayer, and gave all those sons to the Lord 
in an everlasting covenant. She had her place of 
secret prayer in that Middlefield home, not elabo- 
rate, with no carpet nor lace curtains ; she would 
often retire to that humble room of plain boards 
with the door shut, lay the case of her sons before 
the Lord. They were just like ordinary boys of 
those times, or of any times, yet they would scorn 
to give that mother's heart a single pang if they 
could avoid it ; yet they were unconverted boys 
that loved boyish sports and the wild woods. The 
mother loved them as only a mother can love. 

The First Luther Peck. 


Time went on and years passed, and as the days 
grew her anxiety grew. One day, her daily tasks 
having been done, she unhanded her wheel and be- 
took herself to her shrine of secret prayer, and 
there, with her fingers touching the keys that vi- 
brate in heaven, she prayed with a faith that took 
no denial ; in prayer her soul drew near to God 
and still nearer as the moments went on. She 
urged the cases of her boys with unflagging faith. 
She gathered confidence as the hours wore on. 
She took no note of the waning daylight. Rachel 
and Martha took care of the household duties while 
the mother was clinging to the altar. No voice 
attracted her away from that audience with her 
heavenly Father. Her case was an urgent one, 
and she cried out, " I will not let thee go ; my 
body, soul, and spirit, Jesus, I give to thee, and 
these sons must be redeemed from their sins." 
The answer was delayed, while her grasp on the 
throne was a little more unyielding until her sons 
were given to the Lord in an everlasting covenant ; 
wherever and to whatever they should be called 
they should be surrendered. Then the assurance 
came which she could understand, and ever after 
that her soul w r as in nowise shaken from her cove- 
nant, for it was ratified by the Lord of Sabaoth, and 
she came from that holy audience with countenance 
sweet and radiant. Her hands resumed their 
wonted toil, and the itinerant ministers followed 
each other on their long rounds. Preaching and 
prayer were uninterrupted by the hard work that 
had to be done. The members of the drum corps 
were found at the throne of grace, the third son 

38 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

being the first ; his name was Andrew. Then 
George, and finally, after a camp meeting, the 
strongest and eldest son gave his heart and hand 
to the Church, weak and poor as the Church was, 
and he was his father's assistant in the shop, and 
not long after he could assist in leading class. The 
three boys could soon give their testimony intelli- 
gently in their class meeting. Then after a few 
years that dear old homestead was sold and the 
family went to Brookfield, Madison County. The 
closet of prayer was sold with the house, but the 
blessing went along with the family. Rachel and 
Martha had both married and gone out of the happy 
household. These two were the sweet girls whose 
voices made music in and around the log cabin 
in the first New York State home. The remain- 
der of the family settled in their new home while 
Jesse Truesdell was a child of three years. The 
shop was opened and work commenced, and the 
family altar had its place in the new home. The 
Connecticut son, Luther Hoyt, had become a strong 
man and a master workman. His mother called 
him Hoyt, to distinguish him from his father, Lu- 
ther. The other boys could attend school more 
regularly and with growing confidence. Three 
bright girls filled the vacancies in the family when 
this new move was made. Mary, Anna, and Su- 
sanna could more than fill the places made vacant 
by the going away of Rachel and Martha. 

That musical and sweet-spirited Reuben Rey- 
nolds became the instructor of the family and its 
pastor. The youngest son, Jesse, was soon old 
enough to trudge to school, and as soon as he could 

The First Luther Peck. 


readily call the letters by name he would pursue 
his studies at the fireplace at home, and with a leaf 
of some old spelling book or some paper with large 
print spread out before him on the hearth, and 
lying down upon his face as near as he dare get to 
the fire, he would spell out the words and pronounce 
the short ones; when he came to the longer ones he 
would spell them and leave the pronunciation to 
some one of the brothers or sisters who happened 
to be in the range of his voice; and when they heard 
his well-known cry, " What does that spell ?" they 
w r ould pronounce it, and if the answer did not come 
readily he would repeat the letters as best he could 
and with an elevated tone of voice, " What does that 
spell?" In this way he started enthusiastically in 
the pursuit of knowledge and the office of a 
bishop, small now but in a world where there was 
plenty of room to grow. The mother was often 
heard to say, " Jesse must have knowledge," and 
thus early she demonstrated her love for education 
and schools. One day the young stripling was 
proving by Scripture that a person who had a 
brother John must love him. He had no brother 
John. The older boys were listening to hear him 
prove it and the girls were curious to know ; so he 
found the passage in the old catechism. He read 
it as follows : " Whosoever doeth not righteousness 
is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother 
John." There was a clincher. The other children 
could not take that reading from the young 
preacher, but he exclaimed, " Read it yourselves; it 
is truly there." The third son examined the pas- 
sage and behold, it read, " Whosoever doeth not 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth 
not his brother." I John iii, 10. The young brother 
was right, and all the trouble there was he had not 
minded his quotation marks nor pauses. That 
omission was thrown up to him when he was a 
master of eloquence and all those five brothers were 
old men together, 

This family of eleven children was certainly 
remarkable in some respects. It was remarkably 
large — five sons and six daughters, and with the 
parents and Uncle Isaac the number amounted to 
fourteen, and yet there was always room for more. 
On one occasion in the Middlefield house, when one 
of the more popular itinerant ministers was an- 
nounced to preach, there was such a crush that one 
of the beams gave way and there was a very nar- 
row escape from a disaster. " A providential 
deliverance/' the mother quietly said. The long 
table was usually full and sometimes twice. At an 
after-dinner sermon preached by Jonathan New- 
man in that house in the early days he took for 
his text, "Nine and twenty knives/' and preached 
one of the mightiest sermons that ever came from 
man's lips. It cut every w r ay, and maybe it was 
suggested by the free use of numerous knives at 
the long table. 

The missionary spirit was born and bred in that 
mechanic's home. On one occasion, when a camp 
meeting was to occur a few miles away, the whole 
family went. The fire went out on the forge, the 
hammer rested on the anvil, and they spread their 
tent in the woods. All arrived safely upon the 
ground. The boys arranged a place to hang on 

The First Luther Peck. 


the kettle and the girls superintended the cooking 
matters. The boys had their place to sleep on 
some straw away from the rest of the family, but 
only the distance of the thickness of a woolen 
blanket. The class leader was on hand to lead 
singing and prayer, while the mother worked as a 
Woman's Missionary Society. The meeting was 
considered a failure, the rain poured and soaked 
everything. Mother Peck found a stranger boy 
who had brought a small bit of provision to the 
meeting and found his first night's lodging in the 
brush, and the night being rainy his bread had 
become soaked as well as his clothes. He had 
become convicted at the evening service and prayed 
all night alone. In the morning he told his story 
to the mother of this large family, and she invited 
him to her table among her hungry children. He 
ate, and she told him when it came night he should 
crawl in among her boys. He did so and began to 
feel at home. In the prayer meeting he was urged 
to pray, and did so with such earnestness and force 
that the mother said, "That boy will make a preacher 
yet," and sure enough that boy became Dr. John 
Dempster; so there were six ministerial brethren in 
bed together on that camp ground on that dark 
rainy night, and the only one who had insight into 
the future enough to discover theologians around 
her humble table was that prayerful, farseeing 
mother. Indeed, there were six, and one was only 
four years old, and the other was only a peddler of 
notions; yet all six became distinguished for utter- 
ing great thoughts, the child and the peddler both 
as distinguished as either one of the other four. If 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

that camp meeting was a failure these six boys 
never were failures. John Dempster became a 
master in scholarship, metaphysical discussion, and 
versatile writing. He was led to Christ on that 
unpleasant ground in the woods by Mary Kenyon, 
a girl of twenty, who afterward became the wife of 
the oldest one of those five boys. Here several 
romances crowd into one. Andrew Peck, the third 
son of Luther Peck, told me this fact with his own 
lips ; he was on that camp ground and was fourteen 
years of age. 

I do not weary of listening to school days and 
incidents of interest which are remembered and 
told. At one of the family gatherings of the five 
brothers and their friends this was told by one 
brother as to how Andrew lost his dinner to dem- 
onstrate a fact in natural philosophy, Some of 
the more advanced scholars declared that a bottle 
filled with fluid would retain it even if it was 
inverted and the cork removed. Andrew Peck 
would not believe it. "Yes," they said, "the pressure 
of air is so much stronger up than the weight of 
the fluid down that the bottle will not empty/ ' 
Andrew listened to the arguments, and as soon as 
he got the floor he spoke slowly as follows : " I 
think it will kerrulluck and the fluid will come 
out." "O no," said the main speaker, "it cannot 
spill, the air in the neck of the vessel will prevent 
the spilling." Andrew said, " I tell you it will ker- 
rulluck ; 99 and to prove it he took the bottle of milk 
which he carried for his brothers and sisters, sud- 
denly inverted it with the stopper removed, and out 
went the milk on the snowy ground. He had won 

The First Luther Peck. 


the victory in the argument and lost the milk for 
their lunch, with the remark, " I told you it would 

The children went a longer distance from their 
home to school in Brookfield than they had to do 
in old Middlefield. A class was formed in the for- 
mer place consisting of the family and Uncle Isaac 
and five others, and the work was prosecuted with 
vigor, rescuing the wayward and rebellious. Those 
class meetings in the church have ever been the 
schools of elocution, and the mighty men who have 
gone forth to preach the Gospel have found their 
voices in the class meetings of their early expe- 
rience. They never found out that they could utter 
connected sentences until they were urged to give 
a somewhat connected account of their feelings 
when struggling into light. Indeed, such a talk 
was considered in old times as a necessary requisite 
as a continuance in society, and so the timid young 
man would struggle against fearful odds to get on 
his feet and open his mouth, when, after his little 
talk was done and he discovered he was not killed, 
he would gather courage for another occasion. 
That was the exact experience of these five boys 
who became preachers. The father was the class 
leader, the mother and the girls would talk with- 
out breaking down, and the boys would scorn to 
admit that they could not do as well as those sis- 
ters could. Not one of the five brothers had ever 
shown signs of oratory anywhere until they had 
shown it in class meeting. And this same thing 
can be said of a vast number of the most powerful 
preachers of the Church to-day. John Dempster 

44 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

first exhibited signs of eloquence in that camp 
meeting while a boarder and lodger among the 
large family of Mother Peck, and it seems strangely 
providential that he found his way to the meeting. 
Three of that group of six were in the General 
Conference of 1844, delegates from three different 
Conferences, and all three masters in debate where 
the giants of the whole Church brought all their 
mightiest arguments to the fore. George Peck, 
John Dempster, the w r andering stranger, and Jesse 
Truesdell Peck all answered to roll call in that his- 
toric body, and Jesse T. could make the ground 
shake with argument and pathos with the best of 
them, North or South. He was only three years 
old when he was taken to that camp meeting, and 
whether he slept in the straw with the five other 
boys or in his mother's arms he grew to become a 
bishop of a great Church. Elizabeth Peck was 
installed as leader of their young people's group 
after Rachel and Martha had gone from home. 
She was a grand reader, and the Life of Benjamin 
Abbott, Baxter s Call, the Discipline, and Wesley's 
Sermons, Life of Fletcher, and the Life of John 
Nelson became the text-books of the family of 
ministerial boys. Luther Peck was the Carvosso of 
all that region round about. While the mother's 
hands were full of w r ork her heart went out in 
prayer for those young men. A few years more 
and the family so united together in social enjoy- 
ment and evangelistic work began gradually to 
separate. Two had gone to Chautauqua County. 
Elizabeth and Mary went to the grave within two 
weeks of each other, and the little man, Uncle Isaac, 

The First Luther Peck. 


went to his rest not far from the same time. So 
the weak child of the old Connecticut home whose 
cries had been continued night and day went 
where weeping is unknown. Soon the two other 
sisters married, and they went to Chautauqua also, 
and little Jesse had the whole house to himself, so 
to speak, and there is no doubt he needed it. His 
brother George joined the Genesee Conference 
when Jesse was five years old. At that age his 
ideas were exceeding large and rapidly growing 
larger. We have no photograph of him at five, so 
we have to be content with an autograph written 
by himself not many months later. He had by 
persistent questioning and studying and spelling 
for others to pronounce achieved the art of read- 
ing; then he went on with a rush, and when the 
two guardian angels, Elizabeth and Mary, left him, 
he was thrown out upon the world. Fortunately 
for the boy Reuben Reynolds was his pastor and 
instructor. His father and mother looked large 
to him, and the ministers looked larger, and a 
man who could teach and preach, and sing, too, 
looked like a giant. He got hold of a copy of 
the printed Minutes of the Genesee Annual Con- 
ference after he could read ordinary print read- 
ily, and there he found his own brother George's 
name among those men whom he regarded as 
great. He would read those minutes over and 
over between his lesson hours. Then he would 
read them over again with heart bounding. He 
would read slowly until he came to the page where 
the men were received on trial, then his soul would 
expand as he read with loud voice. " Genesee Con- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

ference — John Dempster, Isaac Grant, and George 
Peck;" and then he would read on rapidly, 
" Where are the preachers stationed ? " " Broome, 
Elisha Bibbins, George Peck." All this I heard him 
say in a tract speech at Conference, when he spoke 
with much enthusiasm. It had made consider- 
able of a man of him reading the old Methodist 
Minutes. He grew, and his thoughts expanded. 
Then he repented at the foot of the cross and 
sought the anointing from on high. It was not 
long before he was rejoicing in a new life and ex- 
perience. He had learned to write, and so, getting 
a sheet of foolscap paper, he took his pen in hand 
to indite an epistle to his brother George, and with 
numerous flourishes and a great many capital let- 
ters he succeeded in filling three pages and a half, 
and then filled up the last half with the signature 
" Jesse T. Peck." If the page had been larger he 
would have written his name larger. I close up 
this chapter with a full heart. The story will never 
be dramatized, nor need it be. The main facts 
have the shady side and the bright side, and there 
is needed no poetic fancy to color the scenes. I 
might add a great many facts concerning the child- 
hood and youth of this large family of children, 
such, for instance, as the wood farm, where char- 
coal was burned for use on the forge, where nights 
were spent watching the smoking pit, where the 
maple trees were called upon to yield their fluid 
for the finest sugar, and the fife and drum the 
while making wild music in the wild woods. The 
harsh names applied to the boys and girls by harsher 
teachers ; the friendly contests and strifes for the 

The First Luther Peck. 47 

mastery, and the contests which were not altogether 
friendly, might considerably add to the size and 
interest of the book ; but no matter, these minor 
details are not needed, and so I come to the finale 
of Chapter I. 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

Rev* Luther H* Peck* 

THIS was the Connecticut boy who was born 
while Washington was President, November 
3, 1793. He was four years old when John Adams 
became President. He was the boy who laid the 
boasting champion on his back in his school days. 
He was a powerful boy, and learned instrumental 
music and was a very creditable performer in vocal 
music. He attended singing school and learned 
the notes ; there is nothing on record as to where 
he attended singing school or who was the music 
teacher. Certain it is that he could readily read 
the notes of the staff and sound them correctly. 
He left home and went West to seek his fortune 
when he became of age. He could make a good 
horseshoe and nail, and drive the nails into the 
horse's hoof, and make all sorts of irons for various 
uses when he left home. He had led classes quite 
frequently, and was crowded into the work because 
such laborers were few. When he went West into 
Chenango County he was called upon to exhort in 
the presence of the presiding elder and preachers. 
It was in a log house, and one who heard him said 
he seemed embarrassed. However the sermon re- 
sulted the trip was a success, for he took back with 
him to his father's Brookfield home a companion 
who became his life partner. Mary Kenyon was a 


Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


Rhode Island girl whose parents were Quakers, and 
a large circle of relatives were of the same faith. 
She, too, was a singer. In a few months they were 
married by Loring Grant, on the 16th day of Sep- 
tember, 1816. Soon the old home was left and 
they settled in a sparsely peopled locality not very 
far from her parents. He was in demand because 
there was no blacksmith for miles around. They 
went into a small house about two miles southwest 
from the mineral springs in Pitcher, and there he 
placed his anvil and forge and commenced work. 
He kept a journal all his life, but there is no record 
of any transactions except charges and credit for 
work and provision ; and that was the case with all 
the work that he did, for every transaction, how- 
ever small, had to go on the book, for the farmers 
around him did not pay money, and most of them 
could not. The book was long up and down and 
narrow, and the charges and credit are all in 
pounds, shillings, and pence, or sterling money. 
The ink was black and kept in a black stone jug 
which would hold about half a pint. His pen was 
made out of a goose quill. Evening after evening 
were the transactions of the day recorded ; then 
they were not forgotten, and there was no dispute 
over the entries. Years and years passed and the 
faithful man wrote everything in his journal or 
daybook, or it might be called a blotter. This 
book can be shown to the curious to-day with 
hardly a word or syllable effaced. The leaves be- 
came scattered and separated several years ago 
and left up in a leaky chamber, but they were found 

and arranged and fastened together. They were 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

so faithfully paged and numbered that it was no 
task to bind them, and there is the evidence of a 
life of toil and industry in " black and white/' 

The couple brought from the Brookfield home- 
stead very few tools, but he had enough to make a 
start, and he could make the rest or buy them as 
he became able. He had his fife, Bible, and hymn 
book, a clock, and an atlas containing maps of the 
world in very bright colors. The clock was fas- 
tened up to the side of the house with its back 
toward the highway. It had no case. The weights 
and cords and wheels were all exposed, yet it ticked 
on. The account book, atlas, fife, hymn book, note- 
book, and some other valuable matters were kept 
in a wooden chest. The first child was a son, and 
was named George Wesley. The second and third 
were girls, and were called Mary Ann and Martha ; 
and thus a brother and two sisters had namesakes 
in the family, so had the young mother by giving 
two names to one girl. Soon after Martha's birth 
the house and shop were sold or traded and a more 
comfortable house secured one mile south, down 
on the Brackle road, right where the McDonough 
road from the south connects with the Brackle 
road, the old highway from Cincinnatus to Pharsa- 
lia, or the Hook, as it used to be called. There is 
where the writer of these pages was born on x the 
31st of December, 1824, on Friday. There Luther 
was born and Elias Bowen Peck and Andrew Em- 
ory Peck and the sweet little girl, Eliza Maria. 
The fife became disabled in the hands of a young 
boy, Jonathan, who attempted to play drum with it 
on the edge of the watering trough. 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


All the scenes and events of fifteen years seem 
to be rushing together into my mind, and each 
crowding to get on record first. 

" The smith, a mighty man is he, 

With large and sinewy hands, 
And the muscles of his brawny arms 

Are strong as iron bands. 

" His brow is wet with honest sweat ; 

He earns whate'er he can 
And looks the whole world in the face, 

For he owes not any man." 

The father was strong in body and mind ; indeed, 
he seemed to be a very giant in strength. He was 
a good singer and a powerful preacher. He could 
read correctly. He could lift ten men and a boy, 
and has done it often. In his middle life, his 
palmy days, he could lift more than any man in all 
that region of country. Often and often he has 
had a heavy horse try to lie down on him, but 
he never went down under its w r eight. The picture 
of Atlas with bent back holding the world looked 
much as the blacksmith did holding up a large 
horse. His first farm was small, and, like his fa- 
ther's, it was triangular and not quite as large as 
the Middlefield farm, but it was a world for the 
children. Vegetation would grow and ripe plums 
would fall from the trees, and apples, some sweet, 
some sour, could be gathered from trees. The 
cherry tree would yield its annual allowance of 
very bright red and very sour fruit. There was a 
barn, the home for beast and bird. The curious 
nests of swallows, stuck fast to the rafters inside the 
attic, could not be interviewed ; they were placed out 

52 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

of reach of the hands of the small boy of that period. 
Those birds had a good supply of caution. Father 
kept a mare, and that barn was her home in win- 
ter and stormy nights. The largest room was the 
room for the hay, and there was a large beam, and 
when the hay was in that barn was the playhouse, 
whether it rained or not, and the children could 
play for hours. The child that could crawl up on 
the beam and jump off into the soft hay was wel- 
comed to the circle of youthful athletes, and was 
enrolled on the scrub team. The swallows would 
flit through the diamond window in the gable and 
sit securely on the edge of the nest or hang to a 
brace and seem to say to those children, " You 
can't catch me." Dear old barn ! one of the most 
cherished spots on the round earth. Luther H. 
Peck purchased a small farm a little south, and in 
sight of the front door. That farm had no build- 
ings, and did not need any. It w T as paid for in 
installments, small ones, it seems, looking back to 
those scenes and events. A good deal of the fer- 
tilization and irrigation came from the sweat of the 
father's brow and the sweat and tears of the boys. 
Loads of hay, corn, and potatoes came from that 
farm, and pail after pail full of rich milk. Indeed, 
the " Old Homestead M was enacted there in real 
earnest. The Joshua Whitcomb was there, and the 
load of hay and the wayward sons, two or three of 
them, and the scenes changed year after year. 
That homestead on that triangular lot had the 
usual surroundings and accompaniments. Often 
have the children in mature manhood dreamed 
about and longed to see again the stone wall, the 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


old stump in the front yard, the cellar door, the 
great irregular stone step, in front the noisy door 
with a handmade iron latch and handle with no 
lock or key, the great stone mantel over the fire- 
place, the chamber door with various wheels and 
images made with a fork or some other instrument 
of ornamentation. There by that chamber door 
once sat Grandfather Luther Peck and wife, Annis 
Collar, side by side, old and their strength nearly 
gone, yet with love as strong as of yore. If I had 
then known the half that that venerable couple had 
passed through I should have gone upon my knees 
before them with reverence and gazed into their 
wrinkled faces until the twilight of the evening 
came. There they were ; the frosts of many win- 
ters lay lightly on their locks. The hand that 
grasped the sticks of snowy and icy wood in Revo- 
lutionary times was wrinkled, and the feet that had 
tramped in cold, deep snow were tired. There sat 
a man who voted for George Washington when he 
was elected the first President of the United 
States. There they sat by the chamber door, in 
the home of their firstborn son, their Connecticut 
boy. That boy had become the stalwart man. The 
family altar was in that home. The weary couple 
sang, and sang sweetly, 

" When I can read my title clear 
To mansions in the skies." 

The singing swept like a heavenly wave over my 
youthful soul, and I wished they could stay forever. 
The tears of joy coursed down the furrowed cheeks. 
From that time the corner by the chamber door at 
the right of the old fireplace was dearer than it 

54 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

had been before. They went back to their Brook- 
field home ; we stayed in our old homestead. 
Work went on in the house as well as in the shop. 
There was a loom, a quill wheel, reel, swifts, and a 
weaver's shuttle. My first work was to pick up 
this shuttle when it dropped from the hand of my 
mother, hand it to her, and thus save her from get- 
ting out of the loom to procure it herself. The 
dear mother is gone, but the old shuttle lies before 
me now, venerable and worn, and is now resting. 
The faithful hand of the weaver would send it 
swiftly on its journey carrying the thread ; the 
other hand would grasp it and send it back to be 
grasped again — through and back, again and again, 
and each thread in its turn pressed to its place by 
the reed fastened into the weaver's beam. A thou- 
sand threads lying side by side were required to 
make a yard in length of fine cloth, and thousands 
of yards of cloth came out of that loom during my 
days at home. The old clock would tell the noon 
hour, and the dinner came regularly. So the days 
and years went on, and Luther H. Peck early every 
morning kindled the fire in the fireplace and 
watched the fast-departing woodpile, went into the 
shop, and we, from our bedchamber, could hear the 
ringing blows that wrought out for us a good 
living. That strong right arm had wonderful stay- 
ing power. The boys were hired out as soon as 
they could earn something more than board. I 
went away during the summer that I was eleven, 
but could not earn more than my board, and prob- 
ably hardly that. I lived at the Hook with Gen- 
eral Hendrick Grain. He lived on the hill a little 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


east from the corners in what was then a red 
house, and in the late autumn my father came and 
took me home. He and the general were always 
fast friends. The review day was a great day to 
me. General Crain would review the militia once 
a year, generally in the afternoon, the forenoon 
having been occupied in company drill. The great 
fields, where there was plenty of room, were around 
the Hook. The drums and fifes would make the 
best music that I ever heard, and I generally kept 
as close to the band as possible. In the afternoon, 
when the general would call out in stentorian voice, 
" Prepare to form the square ! " the troops would 
move with rifles at their shoulders, officers with 
red plumes and epauletted would lead their men, 
and by filing north, south, east, and west, a great 
square was formed, generally with horsemen form- 
ing one side, with the more fiery horses champing 
their bits. The drums were stacked in the center 
of the square. The soldiers grounded arms, and, 
while the old flag floated over his head, Elder 
Peck offered prayer. The officers uncovered their 
heads until the prayer was ended ; then the troops 
would sweep around and across the field, and the 
bass drum would seem to make the very ground 
shake, while the shrill fife and the rattling snare 
drum would seem to fill all the air with inspiring 
strains. When all the small drums were united on 
the double roll to the tune " Bonaparte Crossing 
the Alps " my boyish heart would almost burst 
with enthusiasm. I felt a childish pride in the fact 
that my father was the minister for such an august 
assemblage, even more than in the fact that I lived 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

in the home of the general who gave command on 
the field. My father was a modest, kind-hearted 
man. He never lost his conscience ; he inherited 
it from his New England grandparents and his 
Connecticut parents. This story is told in the 
family yet. It runs as follows : A brother of Gen- 
eral Crain declared to a company of men gathered 
at the Hook that he thought Elder Peck could be 
prevailed upon to set a horseshoe on Sunday, and 
there was quite an emphatic negative ; finally, to 
end the dispute, one of Elder Peck's best friends 
was deputized to go down to the elder's shop and, 
with some trumped-up urgent case, ask him to do 
the work. " No," was the response, not harsh but 
kind, and no persuasion could turn him from his 
usual course. The wager was lost by the one who 
took the side of the question that the conscience 
of Luther H. Peck could be shaken. The Pilgrims 
were built of other material, and he had their 
blood in his veins. He was the John Nelson of 
the Church in the Middle States, or, maybe, the 
Philip Embury. He was ordained an elder by 
Bishop Hedding, and never dishonored his parch- 
ments. I have seen his parchments as deacon and 
elder. I have seen his license as a local preacher, 
dated Pompey, June 13, 18 19, and signed by 
Charles Giles, Presiding Elder. This is the same 
Charles Giles who preached such a mighty sermon 
on the camp ground the dark, rainy night when 
John Dempster was converted and crawled in 
among Sister Peck's five boys to lodge on their 
bed of straw. This same John Dempster signed 
one of the licenses which authorized Luther H. 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 57 

Peck to preach. He was ordained deacon July 15, 
1832, and elder September 3, 1837. Both parch- 
ments were signed by Bishop Hedding, the last or- 
dination occurring in the village of Cortland. He 
had, therefore, been an elder forty-four years when 
he died. He made the prayer at Pitcher Springs 
on the occasion of a great celebration on the 
Fourth of July. This was in 1839. One or two 
old Revolutionary soldiers marched in front of the 
procession near the old flag. The meeting was 
called to order down by the Mineral Spring. Ros- 
well K. Bourne read the hymn, Samuel B. Kenyon 
read the Declaration of Independence, and Dr. 
Matson gave the oration. This was my first expe- 
rience in such celebrations, and I distinctly remem- 
ber having some of the highly seasoned filling from 
a roasted chicken, and likely because I was the son 
of the chaplain. I was the only boy that had that 
exalted privilege. My father preached frequently 
down at Willet and Adamses, below Cincinnatus, 
at Bangall, at North Pitcher, at Northwest Corner, 
at the State Road, Podunk, or East Pharsalia, at 
Oxford, McDonough, and Lisle, and all around. I 
can remember some great donation parties at our 
old Brackle home. Loads of hay, grain, and vegeta- 
bles, butter, cheese, meat, and so on. He preached 
for nothing and boarded himself, and paid quarter- 
age to help the traveling preachers through, and 
shod their horses for nothing. He was a splendid 
reader, though not a very fast one. He learned 
some grammar from Mary Ann, the oldest girl, and 
spoke very correctly. He made his own musical 
instrument, the only one he ever had after the 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

young drummer boy broke his fife. This was a 
tuning fork, tempered and filed very smooth. It 
would sound A natural, and, by going up or down 
from that, all other keynotes could be found. He 
stood by the Church and ministers. He was strong 
and brave like Achilles, but he never " sulked in 
his tent." His father never did, and he inherited 
the loyal disposition from him. None of the five 
brothers ever sulked in their tents ; they all inher- 
ited another spirit from their father and mother 
and grandfather and grandmother. It was never a 
Peck trait to sulk, nor a Hoyt trait, nor a Collar 
trait. Our home was made cheerful by cheerful 
voices, and everybody was welcome to it, especially 
the ministers. I remember distinctly when D. W. 
Bristol came to our house on Saturday to fill the 
place of the presiding elder in the neighborhood. 
He was then young, well dressed, with hair as black 
as coal. He sat before the fireplace and visited with 
father and whittled with his sharp knife until he 
had quite a pile of chips on the hearth. Father 
had been disappointed in not seeing David A. 
Shepard come to attend his own Quarterly Meet- 
ing, and from questions that father had asked about 
the elder young Bristol imagined that he was not 
wanted, and so he prepared to go home and leave 
the Quarterly Meeting to take care of itself ; but 
he kept adding to his heap of shavings on the 
hearth. How the matter was arranged I did not 
know, but one thing is true— he stayed and at- 
tended the Quarterly Meeting. Father went ; the 
love feast ended and, the crowd being let in, the 
tall young man ascended the pupit, where he was 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


at his best and maybe nerved up to do his best by 
the hint that another was looked for. He took his 
text and went to his work immediately ; he straight- 
ened himself up to his full height, his voice was 
loud and commanding, and the crowd in the gal- 
leries hung breathless on his well-rounded periods. 
My father began to breathe his " Amens," then the 
orator's curly hair whipped around over his fore- 
head, his r's rolled and swelled and trilled. My 
mother used her handkerchief freely. The young 
people lost their hilarity, while the young preacher, 
feeling confident that he was getting a victory, 
went on louder and grander, rising as on eagles' 
wings, until his peroration carried the whole multi- 
tude off their feet by a rolling wave of enthusiasm 
that went on for several seconds after the orator 
had ceased speaking. The sacramental service fol- 
lowed in its turn, the collection was taken, and the 
crowd moved slowly away. The oratory of D. W. 
Bristol was not a matter of question after that in 
that neighborhood. B. W. Gorham once came to 
our house, and at the request of mother he sang 
the touching story of the death and burial at sea 
of the missionary's wife. After intimating that the 
children should sit down and keep still he com- 
menced with his own clear, ringing voice : 

'* The bright sun down a cloudless sky 

Was sinking in the West, 
And night had tinged with somber dye 

The ocean's heaving breast." 

There were four verses, I think, and my father and 
Mary Ann took in the tune from this once hearing 
it sung, and after they had obtained a written copy 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

of the words they sung it often and often in that 
old house at home, and it always gave me a kind 
of sorrowful thrill, especially when the line came 
describing the sad parting and doleful wail as the 
coffin was committed to the dark waves as the 
night settled over the sea. I remember what trouble 
they had to tell what the word " somber" in the 
third line, really was. But they kept at it until 
they got it right and sung it correctly. 

Father would come in from the shop to take a 
little rest, and after picking out some tune in the 
hymn book he, with the aid of his tuning fork, 
would hum over something that struck him as 
especially good. I remember that I was in the 
house when he first saw the tune named " Duane 
Street." It was in some sheet, I think, like the 
Sunday School Advocate. The tune and words were 
together. The words ran as follows : 

" A poor wayfaring man of grief 
Has often crossed me on my way, 

Who sued so humbly for relief 
That I could never answer nay." 

Father sung it with no one to assist him. The 
words I find in an old number of The Christian 
Advocate a few years earlier in date than I first 
heard them. The tune always charmed me, but the 
words charmed me more. There are six double 
verses of eight lines each. 

The occasions when vast droves of cattle would 
tramp along the highway to some far-off market 
were very interesting, and two or three pairs of 
eyes would watch from the gate the slow-moving 
herd. These great beasts, hundreds of them, with 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


as many pairs of great horns, would follow each other 
in irregular ranks and go right on until the last one 
would disappear ; then we would go to our play and 
father would resume his toil. 

The old Brackle church was built when I was a 
boy often. Father helped cut and hew the timber. 
He held the foot of the posts along one side when 
the great bents and beams were carried up by strong 
men. Indeed, father always held the post on one 
side when a building was raised, and the boss 
workmen were sure to select father. He would 
often be called upon to brace himself and hold the 
post against the lifting of forty or more mighty 
men. His head was always level and his nerves 
steady. I have seen him on such occasions, with 
his unyielding arm fastened around the strong 
lever, with the lower end of the lever inserted into 
the mortise where the post is to finally rest, and 
feeling for his foothold, braced like a very Her- 
cules, while the men ranged along the great beam, 
the word would be given, and all lifting their 
best, with two or three great shoulders under the 
post which he was trying to hold, when a slip at his 
corner would be fatal to more than a dozen men, I 
have seen the great lever bend as the brave men 
were tugging at the post, never fearing that the 
foot of the post would leave its place, with one 
arm around the lever and the other hand reaching 
for the great timber to help the men who were 
lifting for dear life ; then the beam rested in its place 
and all breathed easier. Luther H. Peck was sure 
to be at one corner on all such occasions. Among 
the many large houses and barns raised in the 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

town no lives were lost in my recollection. It 
seems to me that when the three-story hotel and 
boarding house was put up over at the springs one 
bent fell after it was partly up, but as near as I 
can remember my father was not blamed. I am 
not sure as to whether anyone was killed. There 
was bad management somewhere. When the old 
Brackle church went up the timbers were heavy 
and green, and yet the work was so skillfully done 
that no joint had to be cut in the process of rais- 
ing; every joint was braced and the braces were 
pinned at each end and the joints pinned, and the 
architect declared that it would hold together to 
roll over and over. After many years builders 
have come from other towns to examine the frame, 
to inquire what time of year the timber was cut. 
Not a joint had weakened nor a stick was struck 
with decay. The cyclone that prostrated nearly 
all the buildings in sight did not shake the old 
church one inch from its perpendicular. Father did 
the iron work. He made the hooks for hanging up 
the long stovepipes and drove them into the 
beams overhead before the plasterers did their 
work. Brother Peck and his son Jonathan mixed 
the mortar, some of the time wading in it with 
their naked feet. This mode of mixing was soon 
abandoned because the particles of lime would pro- 
mote uneasiness among the toes. I remember one 
remark of the boss mason like this, " It takes a 
Jackson man to turn a corner." That was the first 
instance that I remember of politics in church. 
The dedication must have been in the winter, for 
Horace Agard came from the direction of McDon- 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


ough and moved slowly down the hill south of our 
house in a cutter. Father had gone to meet him 
so as to be sure he would not be discouraged by 
drifts and fail to get to the dedication. The ser- 
mon was a grand one. I remember one passage 
which struck me as fine. Speaking of the care of his 
flock by the Saviour, he said with a voice, musical 
and sweet, " The young and tender ones shall be 
carried along in his bosom and the old and feeble 
ones shall be taken up and laid beside their Shep- 
herd." A protracted meeting followed, and among 
a large number converted my sister Martha was 
enrolled. William Wyatt and B. W. Gorham ren- 
dered efficient service. 

The cyclone was in August and it was terrible. 
The dwelling house on the hill south of the church 
was destroyed to its foundation, and a dear little 
child perished in its mother's arms. The rest of 
the family escaped. The large house of Grand- 
father Jonathan Kenyon, a few rods from our 
house, went to pieces while my uncle and aunt, my 
sister Martha, and the adopted boy, Smith Soper, 
awoke in separate rooms to find the roof com- 
pletely gone and the brick chimney filling the 
sitting room, having in its fall carried the chamber 
floor down with its weight. The bed where the boy 
slept up stairs hung in its place, while a part of the 
roof lay on the bed and held the boy fast. The 
rain poured. My uncle with blanched face came 
in his night shirt to our house. He had met the 
great pile of brick at his bedroom door and had 
managed to get out of his window and come for aid. 
Father called to us boys and we hastened down 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

stairs. The window at the foot of our bed had 
been broken in by the flying sticks and clubs from 
uncle's house ; our roof was gone and the rain 
poured. Father had lighted a candle and was 
calm and collected. There never could be a panic 
where he was. We boys hurried into a little room \ 
off the kitchen which had not lost its roof. Father 
provided my uncle with clothes. My brother 
George rushed over to uncle's and, finding his way 
by the aid of the electric light, clambered up the 
pile of brick in the sitting room and pried the roof 
up so that Smith could pull himself out. Sister 
Martha came over a very scared girl. She had 
worked her passage out of her room, out of doors 
and down the stone steps, and made her way with 
all speed to our house. Smith was told to " crawl 
in with the boys " which he hastened to do and the 
whole family w_ere soon under our piece of a roof. 
The rain poured into the sitting room and the west 
room for several minutes and then the storm passed 
away. The daylight came and revealed desolation 
all around. The house had lost nearly all its shin- 
gles but nothing more. The barn ditto, with a big 
mow of hay soaking wet. The old shop ditto, and 
the cow shed more than unroofed. It lay prostrate 
on the ground. The fences were spread out. My 
uncle's carriage house was pushed from its foundation 
and gone to the ground, yet it stood perfect with 
three fine hogs crushed under it. Great apple trees 
were torn out by the roots and carried away as 
though they were mere feathers. Some were twisted 
off leaving nothing but a slivered stump. One child, 
on farther east, was blown out of bed and was 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


caught by a wooden pin of the rafters and was 
found hanging by its night shirt and rescued with 
no damage, except very wet and badly scared. 
Col. Asa Kenyon shed tears over the destruction 
of a very fine forest of sugar maples. But we es- 
caped marvelously with our lives and limbs, and the 
family altar was unharmed. The Bible was wet 
but no promise was torn out. My little chair was 
all safe. The old anvil was not blown away. The 
first work was to replace the shingles on the roof, 
and kind neighbors helped, and I was large enough 
to climb a ladder with arms full of shingles, and I 
was glad to have that honor. Then the barn was 
roofed and, strange to say, the hay was not dam- 
aged, every pound of it was fed out and readily 
eaten. Then the shop was put under a coarse roof, 
fences were repaired, and work along the Brackle re- 
sumed its wonted regularity. The Chenango Tele- 
graph contained a full report of this tornado and 
the paper may be on file in Norwich. We did not 
then know the word cyclone, but this whirlwind was 
as terrible and destructive as the one that swept 
over Wilkesbarre six years ago. 

One day my uncle Asa came to the shop with 
his old horse " John." He was to be shod, and 
father fixed him up splendidly with heavy shoes 
and calks that would not slip from the shoes nor 
would the shoes slip from the feet after they were 
nailed and clinched. The work was done and dur- 
ing a few minutes' visiting, a neighbor came along 
with a heavy load of lumber and a light team. 
The road was quite muddy and the wheels sunk 
deep into the mire and the team stopped, discour- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

aged, and the man was discouraged. My father got 
hold of the hind wheel but it was no go. Uncle 
Asa suggested that old John could help if a collar 
was found large enough. So the old hump backed 
horse was brought from the shop, a strange collar 
was brought and he put his head through it, a 
chain was attached to the tongue, .and the three 
horses made several efforts, but the load stayed 
there. My uncle looked excited and vexed. Old 
John had never been hitched to a load that he did 
not pull. So he says, " Take off your colts," and 
they obeyed and soon the log chain was wrapped 
around the tongue and hooked to the heavy whif- 
fletree and John tried the ground, and tried his 
shoes, and tried the strange collar, raised his head 
and straightened the big chain. My uncle pulled 
the lines a little and shook the light whip toward 
the old horse and then bending down cried, " Now 
John you must draw." The calks and shoes and 
hoofs of the veteran animal sunk into the turf and 
bending low he straightened his limbs and with a 
mighty spring forward the wheels rolled out of the 
mud in a second and the hand of my uncle patted 
the horse on the ribs remarking, " I knew you 
could do it." The tracks of that old horse's feet 
where he had plowed the sod remained there for 
several weeks. That horse was there to stay until 
that load moved, whether a heavy shoulder was at 
the hind wheel or not. Nothing broke and the 
load moved. 

Elder Peck had no vacation days and no birth- 
day parties nor birthday presents, nor any other 
presents, and he did not give any presents. I re- 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


member I was allowed to buy a book for a cent. 
This penny was the first one that I ever used to 
buy anything for myself with. There was no candy 
in the world that I knew of and I never heard of 
peanuts. In the spring of each year we could eat 
all the warm maple sugar we could swallow, so we 
did not need candy. As to peanuts, we had chest- 
nuts and beech nuts which answered very well. I 
started for the store, a half mile away, with an old- 
fashioned cent and hung fast to it until I got to the 
store ; there I tendered it for a little picture book. 
The book had five or six leaves in it, an inch and a 
half long and about the same width, paper covers. 
I hastened home feeling rich. The book had birds 
in it, and the story of cock robin was glorious to 
me until my brothers and sisters began to criticize 
the book harshly and me more harshly for buying 
that book, so I gave up buying books and did not 
commit to memory the story. The new book 
lasted probably a week and then went out of 
existence. My next deal w r as a nice top traded off 
for a chew of spruce gum, but it was smaller than 
it seemed. It was a thin covering of gum around 
a chestnut shell and behold, the meat was out of 
the shell. I was criticized for that deal more than 
for the other. Yet I lived through both. The cent 
expended in literature showed that my father was a 
friend of education. The merchant was bankrupted 
soon after and the goods removed. The store 
finally traveled along the old highway until it rested 
opposite my grandfather Kenyon's house and was 
converted into a horse barn, the very building that 
crushed the swine when the cyclone came, 

68 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

The old journal that father kept so faithfully 
contains an entry dated on New Year's Day, 1825, 
the very day after I was born. January 1st, and 
no rest. He set a shoe for Charles Corning, six- 
pence. I remember a New Year's Day after that 
which turned out to be a very sad one. It was in 
the year 1838. We were getting a load of wood. 
The oxen were young and somewhat insubordinate, 
but we managed to get on a good load of logs and 
we started for home; father going ahead with the 
ax. I was at the side hanging to the rope attached 
to the horns of the near ox. The sled had cast- 
iron shoes and all went well until in making a 
turn to the right where it was a little descending 
the tongue broke and the load went crashing 
against the heels of the team. They sprang for- 
ward like a flash, wild with fright, and knocked 
father down, trampled him under their feet, and the 
chain holding fast to the load one runner caught 
him in the small of his back and plowed him along 
over the snow and hubs for two or three rods. I 
stood appalled. Soon the runner rose with its load 
and went on over him and there he lay in the road 
helpless. I ran to him but could do nothing. 
Abram Silvernail, I think, saw the trouble and ran 
immediately to his side and in a moment raised 
him to his feet and steadied him until I got my 
shoulder under one arm ; he placed his under the 
other and we moved along slowly towards the 
house ; very little was said. No complaint was 
made and father tried to look cheerful. We went 
on up the hill and came to the front door in about 
twenty minutes. Mother looked alarmed. The 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


strong arm of Luther H. Peck was powerless. The 
good friend helped me until we had him tenderly 
laid upon his own bed. The case was serious. 
There were no bleeding wounds in sight but there 
were signs of internal bleeding that were alarming. 
We bathed his face and hands and hastened to pro- 
cure some spirits for him. Our New Year's was a 
sad one. In the morning a young man had passed us 
in a cutter and greeted us with, " I wish you all a 
happy New Year/' The sun went down in gloom. 
Next day Rev. Lewis H. Stanley came over the 
fields across lots and found the house of Father 
Peck a very sad one. He was the young preacher 
on the Otselic Charge. He sat by father's side, 
bathed his brow with spirits, lifted him, turned him 
over when he desired, handed him his little bite to 
eat, his cup of water to drink, knelt in prayer for 
him and the family. He remained several days 
acting as nurse, and he was splendid. In a few 
weeks father was again at his work with the same 
cheerful spirit he always had. We managed to get 
that load of wood home and cut it up, and burned 
it while the strong man was convalescing. The 
new preacher had a warm place in all of our 

In the spring of 1839 I went to work for John 
Corning and my wages would be six dollars and a 
half per month besides my board for six months. 
These days seemed long, but the man and his wife 
were both amiable and kind and he and I did a 
good summer's work and everything prospered 
around the house and on the farm. They paid 
father the wages and the amount was very much 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

needed to make a payment on the farm, and I was 
glad it could go there. The next summer I worked 
for Russell Stewart on the farm where the Brackle 
church stood. We had hard work but much fun, 
with wages a half dollar more per month. The six 
month's wages amounted to forty-two dollars and 
that went to clear the farm from mortgage and I 
was again glad. The next summer I was a strong 
work hand on the farm of Charles Browning in 
Pharsalia. They had a boy a little younger than I 
and a good deal smaller and two sweet girls. He 
had forty cows and a heavy span of horses. He 
had another hired man at ten dollars per month. 
I received eight and a half, and I had credit for 
doing about as much work as the other hired man. 
I was trusted to take care of the team and drive it. 
A new house was built and several hundredweight 
of cheese was made, and several firkins of butter. 
When the pay day came the money was ready and 
father put that fifty dollars into the farm. We 
were too near the Hook to get lonesome, and the 
hired girl and the little daughters would not per- 
mit us to get to sleep in the day time. 

Father worked on and soon bought a piece of 
land to add to the size of his second farm. Then 
he bought another farm across the street from the 
house, so that the old shop could stand on his own 
soil. After a few years more he made a purchase 
of Uriah Harvey of his whole farm with buildings. 
It lay on the side of the South hill in plain sight of 
the old front door. He also bought a farm in 
Wisconsin for Elias Bowen, and the deed was his. 
He then purchased a forest of beautiful sugar 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


maples and purchased and made the tools required 
to make the delicious sugar. The two boys had gone 
into the ministry and it would be hard to tell how 
he could have done more or better if he had tried. 
When mother died he was the owner of real estate 
and personal property that would sell under the 
hammer for five thousand, five hundred dollars. 
He had worked it all out himself with hard, honest 
toil and the help that we children could render, 
and the dear mother did her full share. They had 
helped all that came to them in need. Often and 
often I have seen the little boy of a neighbor come 
cautiously into the entry way, open the door just 
far enough to look in and stand there silent, hold- 
ing his little pail, while a ragged sister would stand 
just behind him. In a few minutes mother would 
see them and soon fill the pail with milk and they 
would hurry away home with it. 

Three grandsons of my father laid down their 
lives, volunteers in the Union army during the 
late rebellion. Three more have gone into the 
ministry, and he being dead yet speaketh. The 
tragedies and comedies that were enacted in the 
old Brackle homestead would fill volumes. The 
actors are gone and others have come bearing 
other names and the Gospel wins its widening 
way. Father lived until he was eighty-seven years 
old. There was one time in his life when his heart 
failed him. He was alone in the woods chopping 
with his sharp ax when an accidental blow ampu- 
tated three toes from one foot. He gathered them 
up and started for home, but, feeling faint, he 
wilted and left the toes in the woods and hurried 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

home. The wounds, after careful dressing, healed 
and the foot became a match for the other. That 
boot was always odd shaped at the toe, and I never 
knew when and where that accident occurred. He 
was a right royal man, and was a master among 
men. I have looked on him with reverence, seeing 
him work and tug, and as he drew his finger across 
his brow the sweat would run to the ground a 
stream ; and I would have felt unworthy of being 
a son of his if I had weakened in the least in any 
of life's hard duties. He worked to accomplish 
good, and had very few honors thrust upon him. 
I have heard him pour forth a tide of eloquence 
that would enchain the crowds that heard him. I 
can remember a text that he preached from once 
in the old Brackle schoolhouse. The seats and 
writing desks were full and all crowded. He was 
mighty in prayer and a grand singer ; these having 
been gone through he announced his text, " O let 
the wickedness of the wicked come to an end." 
His neighbors and his neighbors' children were 
there, but there was no room for trifling nor criti- 
cising ; the best educated heard him gladly. There 
were couples there for whom he had performed 
the matrimonial ceremony, and while he rose to the 
height of his subject, describing the grand times 
that would come when wickedness should come to 
an end, the young people were attentive and grave, 
and all hearts seemed to throb with new life. I 
had witnessed other kinds of scenes in the old 
schoolhouse. I had heard a stone inkstand burst 
and fly to pieces on the hot stove. I had heard a 
powder squib explode inside the stove and throw 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


the stove door open. I had seen one teacher 
dragged by the hair of the head nearly out of 
doors. I had seen blows struck upon the head and 
in the face of insubordinate pupils until blood would 
flow. I had been in hard snow battles, when we 
played war and Indian fights. I had been tumbled 
end over end from the end of the long line when 
we played " snap the whip " around that house. I 
had stood on that very platform with a long ox 
whip in my hand playing I was driving oxen when 
I personated Deacon Homespun while acting on 
the stage before an applauding crowd. I had seen 
stones fired at the heads of boys in real fights, but 
my memory was never more impressed than on 
that night when my hard-handed father was preach- 
ing to a crowd with an eloquence that was almost 

They tell of a time in the forties when the 
preachers and people were holding a camp meet- 
ing in a not far-off woods, when the local preacher 
was pressed into service to preach and he bravely 
took his place in the stand and announced the 
hymn, one verse of which read : 

" This work my hoary age shall bless 
When youthful vigor is no more, 

And my last hour of life confess 
His saving love, his glorious power/' 

Then he sang ; he had a camp meeting voice, and 
he led while all joined in ; then he announced his 
text and the preachers smiled : " They shall dwell 
safely in the wilderness and sleep in the woods. 
The evil beasts shall cease out of the land ; there 
shall be showers of blessings." He preached and 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

had a good time. At the close of his sermon every- 
body praised the local preacher, and the Gospel 
banner did not trail in the dust in the hands of 
that preacher. He never allowed it to trail where 
he was. During the Avar of 1812 he was a volun- 
teer fifer and would have gone but another volun- 
teer fifer was drawn by lot in the stead of him. 
So he never had any war stories to tell us children 
except what he found in the books or papers. - 

The Christian Advocate came regularly every 
week into our home from its very first issue until 
the day of father's death. He lived in his Brackle 
home some three years before the Advocate was 
first printed. I was born a year before the Advo- 
cate. In my struggles to spell and pronounce I 
can remember distinctly lying down upon the floor 
with the great sheet spread out before me and 
spelling out the large words at the head of the 
paper — Christian Advocate and Journal and Zions 

I had a " run round " in my earlier days before 
I could walk by myself. This machine was a per- 
fect piece of mechanism. Before the old house was 
plastered, the beams overhead being in sight, a 
staple was driven horizontally into one of those 
beams and the upper end of a pole, planed smooth 
and octagonal, inserted into the staple. The pole 
had a spur in its lower end, and was long enough 
to reach to the floor. It could turn round on the 
floor, and the top end could turn in the staple. 
There was an arm framed into this pole about two 
feet from the floor, reaching out about a yard. A 
bow bent double and inserted into two holes in the 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 75 

arm completed the machine. The child would be 
let down into this bow or half circle until its feet 
touched the floor and the child's arms rested on 
the wood, then soft cloths were pushed around un- 
der the arms. Then the fun would commence. 
Round and round the child would go, using the 
feet for pushers. Hours and hours would be thus 
passed while the weary mother would have time to 
pursue her daily household duties. The feet of 
the child would patter on around and around until 
the eyes would close and the hands would hang 
over the sides of the carriage. I suppose that 
thousands of times I have gone around that " cir- 
cuit " before I could walk by myself or before I 
knew who I was or where I was. I can remember 
when my brother Luther traveled that same circuit 
after me. Those feet have just now, after sixty- 
seven years of travel, come to their last rest. My 
first circuit was about fifteen feet in circumference, 
The " run round " was never a success after the old 
staple had been hidden by the lathing and plaster- 
ing overhead. I do not know of any other man 
excepting Luther H. Peck whose home contained 
that kind of a circuit in front of the fireplace. 

My uncle, Asa Kenyon, already mentioned, had 
an ambition to display fine horses, and he had a 
good degree of a military spirit. On one parade 
day, in a very large meadow, while the officers and 
soldiers were performing their evolutions I saw 
Colonel Kenyon on one of his own spirited horses 
leading a long line of horsemen, single file, away 
around the outside of the field. They were not in 
uniform, but had just volunteered for the occasion. 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

There were old men in the ranks and some boys 
that I knew. I ached to be in that long line on a 
horse. So I persuaded my uncle, Solomon Ken- 
yon, to loan me old Jim, and he was about as 
handy a horse to ride as an average ox would be. 
I was twelve years old and of good size and could 
ride any horse ; so I put on a folded blanket 
upon the back of Jim and was soon in the ranks. 
I wore my coat, which was a full dress coat, a reg- 
ular double-skirted swallowtail, the first and the 
only one I ever had. I used the whip rather freely 
until my war steed got up quite a speedy move- 
ment. I kept my place in the ranks, and I thought, 
of course, we were the observed of all observers. 
Round the field we cantered ; finally, as we were 
passing the musical corps one of them rushed out 
toward our ranks and made a rattling noise. Of 
course my horse jumped a little one side, and of 
course I went to the ground, but the other horse- 
men did not stop for me, nor could they. On the 
ranks came, horse after horse cantering and jump- 
ing, planting their feet all around me, and I was 
as anxious to get out of the ranks as I had been 
before to get in. I succeeded with no loss of limb 
or blood. I crawled up to the fence just in front 
of the old Nathaniel Lewis home. The fence was 
lined with ladies and gentlemen, sweet girls and 
noisy boys. My uppermost thought was shame 
that I had fallen off from a horse. I had no idea 
of the danger I had been in. I picked up the half 
of my skirt that had somehow been torn off and 
went away humiliated. That man that playfully 
rattled the drum at us was Albert Ensign, and was 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


afterward teacher in our old Brackle school, and 
soon afterward became a minister and traveled for 
years in the old Oneida Conference. I never after 
hankered for a position in the ranks of cavalry, but 
I always felt as secure on the back of a horse as 
on my own feet. The reason why I was not severely 
punished, I suppose, was that the leader was my 
mother's brother. Father always liked him and 
he liked father, and he was about the only one who 
paid money for blacksmith work, and he did not 
very often. But father was always paid for his 
work in good pay. One exception I remember. 
There was one load of hay brought to him which 
was guessed at and called a ton, but after it was 
put into the barn it was judged by the best men 
to be fully a half ton short, yet it was never made 

I remember when the schoolmaster called the 
names of the men who sent children to school to 
ascertain how many came from each home, my 
Uncle Asa's children would answer " Eight. " One 
of the larger boys of my uncle's family was brought 
to father's with marks on his back which had been 
made by the teacher. That was Ahira Johnson 
who afterward joined the itinerant ranks and was 
a very popular preacher. Father called him a 
great man. The men of those days had to pay for 
the teaching of their children. That was why we 
had to answer to roll call every night at close of 
school. I have known the master to get out of all 
patience trying to keep order and call the roll at 
the same time. No wonder the boys sometimes 
got marks that they would carry for days, for their 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

conduct would make even a minister fight. But 
boys are boys the world over and ministers are 
only human. A boy is always in a hurry to get 
out of school, and at sundown with the dinner bas- 
ket empty, the hat or cap in hand, with both eyes 
on the door, it would seem to require a regiment 
of soldiers to keep order while the roll is being 
called. Yet the teacher must call it every day and 
get it correct, too, for his pay depended, in those 
days, on the correctness of his report. 

Elder Peck always stood by the teachers and the 
preachers also. I remember only one that he 
helped discharge — fire, as it would be called now- 
adays. A smart, bright young man came to the 
Brackle school and seemed to be anxious to make 
his mark, and succeeded very well for some weeks. 
When it came time for him to board at our house 
he came and made himself quite agreeable and we 
children did our best to be agreeable to him. One 
evening he and the elder got into conversation on 
matters of history. During the discussion the 
master remarked " that heathenism, superstition, 
and priestcraft had ruined the country, so far as he 
had read." This was passed over without any 
serious objection. A few weeks after I brought 
home my copy book, and a scriptural copy was 
written by the teacher that was read over carefully 
and pronounced not acceptable. It was simply a 
quotation from Job, " Naked came I," and so on, 
just enough of the verse to make a copy the whole 
length of the page. Our folks thought it was in- 
tended as a kind of slur on the Bible. Possibly he 
was only looking for a line commencing with N. 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


He may have exhausted the alphabet and got to 
" Many men of many minds" and being a little 
hurried he wrote the first thing he could call to 
mind that commenced with N. However it was, 
he took his dismissal as gracefully as possible. 

My first recollection of anything or anybody any- 
where is of a grove meeting held in the woods near 
the old Brackle schoolhouse, over by the cold 
spring, just a few rods west. It was in the sum- 
mer of 1827. I was then two years and a half old 
and many are doubtful as to whether any one can 
remember occurences when they are so young. 
But I distinctly remember the meeting. What 
they called it or who preached I only know by 
having been told in these later years. All I re- 
member is that w r e came along the Brackle road, 
turned in to the left and came to a log and looked 
over the log and saw a great lot of people, mostly 
women, all sitting down with their faces west, or 
their backs were toward me and the tops of their 
bonnets seemed to make a level arrangement like 
a floor. My sister, Mary Ann Atwell, now living, 
writes me that there was a grove meeting that 
year near the cold spring, and that father and a 
Brother Coggswell, of Northwest corner, another 
local preacher, and one other were the preachers at 
that meeting, and she remembers distinctly that my 
brother Luther was a child in his mother's arms, 
He was born the March previous and I was two 
years old the winter previous. So the date cannot 
be doubtful. 

Captain Crandall had his residence just across 
the road south and he was a grand supporter of 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

the weak society. I remember a quarterly meet- 
ing a few years later in his large barn, the barn was 
full. I had some kind of a seat over the stable. 
The horses were out and the stable was full of peo- 
ple. I could look down between the slabs upon 
the tops of the heads of the men. The preaching 
was at the south end of the threshing floor. One 
young fellow where I was had a large, sharp pointed 
knife, and he opened it and would let it drop and 
stick into the slab under us. Once when he 
dropped it it missed the slab and went through the 
crack, but the handle was thick and it caught, else 
a man with a bald head who was directly under us 
would certainly have been killed. All the harm 
there was done, I and one or two others, missed 
the sermon. Elias Bowen was presiding elder that 
year and Rufus Lummery was the Cortland 
preacher and came all the way to Brackle to preach, 
some twenty-two miles. Captain Crandall was a 
great friend of our folks. He was a splendid me- 
chanic in wood and no doubt made the wood work 
of the baby merry-go-round. He certainly made 
mother's loom which was the most perfect piece of 
workmanship that could possibly be made. Father 
did all the captain's iron work. His name occurs 
often on father's journal. Andrew Jackson Cran- 
dall, a very eloquent preacher, was a nephew. 
Father was ordained deacon at the next Conference 
and altogether likely had his recommendation 
from the Quarterly Conference held in that barn or 
maybe that convened in the house. No less than 
ten preachers have gone out into the traveling 
ministry from the old Brackle society : George W. 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


Peck, Jonathan K. Peck, Luther Peck, Samuel B. 
Yarrington, A. J. Crandall, Giles Green, Isaiah 
Lord, A. J. Kenyon, George W. Peck, D.D., 
LL.D., Charles L. Peck. Nearly all of them very 
near relatives of Luther H. Peck. This is a show- 
ing that is well worthy of recording. Father was 
in a protracted meeting at North Pitcher when Ira 
D. Warren was pastor, out of which went forth to 
the itinerant field several young men, some of 
whom knew father well and were familiar with 
his singing and preaching. That revival occurred 
in 1 85 1 , when seventy-five probationers were added 
to the church roll. 

The following ministers date their initiation into 
the working ranks at that period : Enoch P. El- 
dridge, Linus M. Nickerson, Albert Ensign, Albert 

G. Fargo, Hubbard Fox, Sheldon Hinman, Ran- 
som Hinman, Charles Ruddock, L. H. York, and 

H. B. Smith. These added to those already named 
as starting from the Brackle and we have twenty 
ministers coming into the ranks from the town of 
Pitcher, which casts at a presidential election less 
than three hundred votes ; I ask Is there a town of 
its size in the United States that has done any 

One winter when I was a boy, I was tipped over 
while riding on top of a load of hay and my head 
went against the frozen ground. I was holding 
fast to a bottle of spirits which was intended for 
helping cure the measels. My older brother and 
sister had that disease. The bottle broke and the 
wine ran out ; Elder Atwell came along in his styl- 
ish cutter and sympathized with us, but it seems 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

to me now that he remained in the cutter while 
father scooped up a little spirits from a hollow in 
the ground and rubbed it on my bruised head. 
Brother Atwell trusted to the strength of Father 
Peck and another friend to raise the load of hay and 
place it on its feet, and they did it, and we soon 
got home minus the bottle and its contents. The 
children got over the measels without the inevita- 
ble milk punch, and work was resumed at the old 

Luther H. Peck was ordained deacon side by 
side with a class of eleven traveling preachers and 
some local preachers. Moses Adams, Lyman K. 
Reddington, Lyman Sperry, and Morgan Ruger 
were among the eleven. William W. Ninde, V. M. 
Coryell, James Atwell, Calvin Hawley, William 
Round, and Sylvester Minier were ordained elders 
then. George Peck, Andrew Peck, and John 
Dempster were on the floor of that Conference in 
Manlius, and Jesse T. Peck, a boy of twenty-one, 
was received on probation. There were six of 
those boys who slept together on the straw in 
Mother Peck's tent on the damp and muddy camp 
ground in Mindan eighteen years before and all the 
six took their appointments except Luther H., and 
belonged to the Whilom drum corps. Two of them 
were that year appointed presiding elders, namely, 
Andrew Peck and John Dempster. George Peck 
went to Cazenovia. The youthful Jesse T. was 
sent to Dryden. The oldest, the fifer, went to his 
Brackle home. Asa Cummings was recorded as a 
" worn-out preacher." He had been pastor at 
Middlefield twenty-nine years before when these 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


men were boys and had sat at Father Peck's table 
when Luther H. was ten years old and George was 
six and Andrew a child of three. Rachel was fif- 
teen and Martha thirteen. The minister and his 
wife slept in the attic of the schoolhouse as a par- 
sonage. After this year, 1832, I began to be old 
enough to remember occurences more distinctly. 
Father and mother continued their activity and 
hard work and were very earnest in church work. 
My Uncle George came and made us a visit. He 
sat not by the chamber door but back toward the 
sleeping recess, clean shaved, wearing a white col- 
lar with a suit of black clothes and his hair was 
black. He was then at the head of the school in 
Cazenovia. Then he was in his prime. Uncle 
Andrew came and remained longer, stayed over 
night, asked the blessing at the table and led in 
morning prayer. Gave me a very mild warning to 
seek the " pearl of great price." I undertook to lead 
his horse to the creek for its morning drink. His 
name was Billy. He jumped and ran, and I let loose 
of the halter, preferring not to be dragged under his 
heels to the creek. The horse got a severe repri- 
mand from his master in words like this, " Why 
Billy, how could you conduct yourself with such 
unbecoming impropriety. ,, Billy shook his head 
and made no reply. I escaped without even a 
mild reprimand. The truth was the horse had been 
recommended to me as perfectly gentle, and I 
could not in my youthful intelligence discover the 
gentleness of the venerable Billy and I felt af- 

Uncle Jesse came to our Brackle home and I do 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

not remember much except that he walked rapidly 
through the entry into the west room, down the 
two steps in entering, that he had a faultless suit 
of clothes and his boots squeaked as he walked. 
This visit may have been to help in a camp meeting 
which was held over at North Pitcher, where he 
preached a funeral sermon of Abby Reynolds, 
daughter of Rev. Reuben Reynolds. I remember 
being one day at that camp meeting. At that visit I 
remember he helped mother take a hot pan of 
meat and smoking grease from the fire and carry 
it into the back room, and burned his fingers 
severely rather than drop it on the clean floor. A 
man once came to the neighborhood to teach a 
singing school and we turned out quite a crowd in 
the lower Brackle schoolhouse and we got well 
started in learning the notes when one night a bil- 
let of wood was thrown by one of the boys toward the 
door and it landed inside of the bass viol. It hap- 
pened during recess and the teacher had set it care- 
fully away in the corner where it would not get 
hit and it happened to be just where it got spoiled. 
He came to our house discouraged. He talked with 
father and seemed to feel that he should have his in- 
strument mended or another bought for him, but 
no one of the boys in our family had helped in the 
destruction of the viol, so he did not get much sym- 
pathy from father. When it came time for family 
worship the chapter that was read had the passage, 
" If a man think himself to be something when he 
is nothing he deceiveth himself. ,, I imagined that 
it was intended for the singing master and thought 
now he will be more discouraged than ever and 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


he was, for he taught no more singing on the 

I remember my grandfather and grandmother 
Kenyon distinctly. The house was only about 
forty rods from ours. I remember seeing grand- 
mother sitting with her back to the fire in her 
rocking chair with her clean white cap on. Grand- 
father lived a few years after she died, and when I 
ran into the house one morning he spoke so 
roughly to me that I thought it bordered on pro- 
fanity and I hastened away home. He was a good 
man, but in mind he was somewhat weakened in 
his old age. He gave me a lamb for my name and 
it got killed in the yard where the swine were kept. 
He then gave me another. That one increased 
until I had quite a flock and when the other sheep 
were sold mine went with the rest, but my tears 
were dried up by the sight of the money which I 
laid away carefully in a box in mother's bureau, 
and though I kept a close watch of it, it got 
worked in on the mortgage of the homestead and 
my three years' wages went the same way, and I 
hold only my name, Jonathan Kenyon Peck. 

The old homestead on the Brackle is immortal. 
The scenes are photographed and engraved on the 
memory of more than a score of persons even now 
living. The old anvil with the indentation which 
was worn into its face by the making of horseshoe 
nails, thousands and thousands of them, one at a 
time, under the blows of the heavy hammer.. That 
anvil has a likeness in my mind and in the minds 
of a hundred other persons. The house is gone 
and another stands in its place. The barn was 

86 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

drawn away from its first foundation down upon 
the Root farm. The carriage house that I helped 
build moved over across the street and stopped 
near where the old shop used to stand. The west 
room which was the parlor of the old house was 
attached to the west end of the wagon house to 
add to its capacity. The well is there, though the 
creek is dry most of the year. All the keepsakes I 
have now is the old, weary, and worn shuttle. My 
sister's sons have the anvil and I have hankered 
after it for several years. The scar that I carry on 
the back of my left hand was made by a heavy 
case knife wielded by Elias Bowen in answer to a 
mild reprimand which I gave him for hacking 
notches in the end of the dining table. The hori- 
zontal scar on my temple just in front of my right 
ear was made by a heavy, sharp ax wielded by my 
brother Luther. It was not intended and w r hen he 
saw the blood running down into my neck he cried 
with terrible grief. The scar on the inside of my 
left hand near the wrist was made by a sickle, reap- 
ing wheat in the orchard not far from the old sweet 
apple tree. The scar on the little finger of my left 
hand was made by a sickle while I was reaping oats 
in the lot across the street from the Grandfather 
Kenyon house. These are some of the keep- 
sakes I have which I will never lose while I live. I 
was the cause of killing one man's horse down by 
the old Brackle church. Father always told us 
when driving in the street to keep to the right. I 
did so and the other man did not, but turned to 
the left and the shaft of my cutter perforated the 
near horse of the other team and it died in the 

Rev. Luther H. Peck. 


road before they got it home. I was prosecuted for 
trespass and damage. I was cleared because I had 
obeyed my father's injunction and kept to the right. 
The young man who drove the other team swore 
positively that the fore feet of his team were in the 
old Brackle road and the hind end of his sleigh was 
on the little bridge in the cross road toward the 
church. Russell Stewart measured the distance 
from the Brackle road south to the little bridge 
and found it four rods and he was at the trial as a 
witness, so the young man claimed that his team 
was "four rods long." Ahira Johnson, the pastor, 
was there that night, and a minute after the accident 
occurred asked the young man where the crash 
happened, and he replied " right there," pointing to 
the little bridge. If he had said up yonder in the 
Brackle road, his statements would have agreed. 
But the justice was only a few hours in deciding 
that I was right in keeping to the right and the 
case was lost with the horse. There is a song in 
these new times the burden of which is, " Keep in 
the middle of the road." This would certainly 
bring collisions. This collision occurred just a few 
rods from the old schoolhouse where the bass viol 
was perforated. In that old schoolhouse I have at- 
tended great quarterly meetings and my father has 
taught singing school. He was a splendid music 

I regret to close this chapter. I love to linger 
over the memory of a good man. He was one of 
the most faithful husbands that ever breathed. He 
was a peacemaker, was sociable and companion- 
able. He lived and died trusting God and confid- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

ing in humanity; with many reasons to falter in 
trusting humanity, he never faltered. He had 
talents for a successful advocate at the bar or a 
major general on the battlefield. He had not the 
dash of Napoleon, but. he had the staying power of 
Wellington. He was honest. His word was his bond. 
He owned the property he possessed in his own 
right, and never hid anything behind another per- 
son^ name. A note with his well-known signature 
attached was always worth its face in cash — not one 
was ever protested or discounted ; he could qualify 
or go upon a bond to the amount of three thousand 
dollars or more, and in case of an execution the 
property could be found even if he had been laid 
in his grave. He died with three thousand dollars 
on record in his favor in the court records of Che- 
nango County, and that judgment amounts now to 
over four thousand. The World's Fair closed the 
very day of his one hundredth birthday. So that 
the one hundred and first anniversary of the birth 
of Luther H. Peck has only just been. He was 
seven years old when the nineteenth century 
dawned. What a century ! Twenty presidents 
came and went during his life, and three wars 
came and went. His grandfather went down in 
the Revolution and three grandsons in the last 
war. He was wise in counsel and prompt in exe- 
cution. His wearied and broken body lies near 
the old Brackle church by the side of her who was 
" worn out" some years earlier, the same one whom 
w r e called mother for so many sweet years. Fare- 
well, noble hearts, till the morning shall break. 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 89 

Rev* George Peck, DJX 

THIS name stands for a great man, and this sen- 
tence of plain English seems tame as I put 
the pen to paper. I have half a notion to draw 
my pen over it and give expression to something 
more appropriate. As the world goes, only a 
very few names carry the word Great attached to 
them. Peter the Great, Alexander the Great, Caesar 
the Great, comprise about the entire list. Maybe 
Napoleon should not be left out ; and there was 
Sesostris, a Pharaoh of ancient time, a ruler over 
a portion of the dark continent, who has passed 
into history as the Great. Still many names other 
than these will shine with grander luster through 
the revolving ages than any or all of these. The 
men that are to-day called the " Great men of God " 
are in no wise less than these I have mentioned. 
There are great rulers, and there have been great 
rulers, great kings, great queens, great discoverers, 
and inventors, great warriors, great orators, great 
prophets, great poets, great historians, great schol- 
ars. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Copernicus, Isaac 
Newton, and Benjamim Franklin, all these and a 
thousand more have been called great. So I dare 
venture to attach the term to the subject of this 
chapter, and notwithstanding he was not born to 
title nor nobility nor wealth nor with rare genius, 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

I hesitate not, now that his farewell to the world 
has been said, to say George Peck was a great man. 
True, he never tore the jaws of a lion, and it is true 
that he never swam the Tiber, nor the Rubicon, 
nor the Hellespont, nor the whirlpool at Niagara, 
nor does he have credit for carrying his father out 
of a burning city as ^Eneas did old Anchises out 
from the flames of old Troy. True, he never was 
sworn on an altar to hold eternal hatred to the 
Romans. True, he never crossed the Alps at the 
head of legions and thundered at the gates of 
Rome. He never saved a city nor destroyed a 
city. But how can he be pronounced great unless 
he has done some great thing? I will answer by a 
plain recital of his life. He was born in the woods, 
but it was under a roof. He was born in a cabin, a 
log cabin, a very poor cabin, cradled in the arms of 
a mother who had four children before him, and he 
could not be a pet, except in the sense that the 
other children were, especially after another came 
after him. The firstborn can be a pet or favorite, 
so can the youngest, so can the first son. But he 
was the fifth-born, and the second son, and the 
youngest child for only three years. He was not 
the seventh son, so he could not be a famous phy- 
sician. He was simply George Peck. He was not 
extra large nor extra small. He was not born 
great, nor did he have greatness thrust upon him, 
so that if he became great his greatness had to be 
achieved. He early found himself in a happy group 
of happy, healthy children, and very poor children. 
He was not a musical prodigy, nor an oratorical 
prodigy, nor a mathematical prodigy, nor a marvel- 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 91 

lous hunter of wild beasts ; in fact there was not a 
child in the large family, nor hardly one in the town, 
that was not his equal in all that constituted great- 
ness. He never was fed on the marrow of the bones 
of lions. He never was wrapped in lion's skins. He 
never was tested in the dark waters of the Sty- 
gian river. He was born and nourished and reared 
among trees and mudholes and rocks and stones, 
a common boy among common children. He 
never had lessons in elocution nor rhetoric. He 
early learned to swing the heavy sledge and blow 
the bellows, and bear down on the end of a lever to 
drive the steel drill through cast iron, but all this 
other boys could do just as well as he could. He 
did learn to beat the drum, yet no professors were 
ever hired to teach him. He never was sent to the 
house of correction, for his father could attend to 
all that business. He never had to be sent to the 
workhouse, for he was not disinclined to work, 
and his father could generally give him a job and 
board and clothes. He learned to make leather 
shoes from his uncle, and worked at the business 
rainy days, when the farm work rested. He could 
burn charcoal and cut the wood to burn it of, and 
he could go through all the steps of making maple 
sugar. He could make the woodwork of sleds and 
iron them, as will be seen further on. His mother 
prayed for him and had some apprehension that he 
would come to some bad end, and his father feared 
he would never amount to anything. Here he 
found himself in his teens, in Middlefield, Otsego 
County, N. Y., with these lines of employment — 
farming, sleigh-making, blacksmithing, shoemak- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

ing, drumming, coal-burning, and sugar-making — 
seven kinds of work he was more or less skilled 
in. He commenced his education when the old 
schoolmaster summoned him to his duty in this 
classic language, " Peck, you scoundrel, come and 
read." He did not care to answer to that kind of 
roll call, still he walked up to the side of his in- 
structor and said his A B Cs. By dint of much 
urging, and some coaxing and hiring and compel- 
ling he achieved the English language so that he 
could read quite readily. He took a course of lec- 
tures from his father and his mother and his sisters 
and the ministers who came through the country 
preaching the Gospel. One of the ministers was a 
small man, and once while preaching, with a hogs- 
head for a pulpit, the floor of his pulpit gave way 
under him, he went suddenly into the interior of 
the cask, and then with difficulty could see his 
audience, yet he continued his sermon, and rising 
on his tip toes he could catch an occasional glimpse 
of his hearers and they could catch an occasional 
glimpse of him, and he concluded with a peroration, 
and omitted the prayer at the close. The boy who 
had begun to learn the oratory of those times was 
not especially pleased with the weakness of the 
platform or the rostrum, and though he had never 
essayed to speak in public on the stage, he thought 
within himself that such a stage needed hooping, 
or the speaker should be a taller man. 

Time went on, the preachers came and preached 
and changed, work went on, and the boys practiced 
on their fife and drums and grew along toward 
manhood. The two boys, George and Andrew, 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 93 

were up at the barn together. Andrew, the 
younger, had already been converted in a meet- 
ing in the homestead, and he suggested to George 
that it would be a good thing for him if he also 
would start, saying in his boyish earnestness, " You 
must have religion for yourself or you will go to 
hell." This broke down the young man to have a 
younger brother venture to speak thus plainly to 
him, and he made haste to commit himself publicly 
to the good cause. There was nothing remarkable 
in his conversion nor in his public profession. He 
simply said in a love feast at a camp meeting, 
twelve miles from his home — it was held in Minden, 
Montgomery County, N. Y. — "Two weeks ago last 
Thursday God converted my soul." There was 
nothing indefinite about the time, and the place is 
on the map. There was no doubt about the fact 
nor who had done it. He said that, after waiting 
and trembling, brave boy. This was his first speech 
in public, not remarkable, short and to the point, 
just such as thousands of boys have made before 
and since, yet he had not copied from anyone. The 
spot on the bare ground where his feet stood is 
there yet, and can be pointed out to-day, and the 
town retains its name and is on the map. There 
stood the orator making his maiden speech. He 
was not a king's son, nor had he received an anoint- 
ing by his mother of ambrosia, as was Achilles, but, 
what was infinitely better, he had received in an- 
swer to the prayers of his mother the anointing of 
the Holy Spirit. Here is his start for greatness. 
No great parade is made over the reformation 
which had been produced in his heart. Father 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

White merely said, " Praise the Lord," and the 
meeting went right along. This was before Sab- 
bath schools had been introduced into that region, 
and the catechism was the text-book, and between 
hard days' work at manual labor, reading the Bible, 
singing the old hymns, and learning the catechism 
under the instruction of the mother, the happy 
children passed their days. The new home farther 
west opened new fields of labor for all of them. 
The father left home to spend the winter, taking 
Luther Hoyt with him, and George had to lead the 
class. It usually met in their own house, and more 
than half of the class consisted of their own family. 
With trembling and hesitation the young man 
would go on with the meetings, and as the neigh- 
bors would come in to their public prayer meet- 
ings, George would do his best to make the oc- 
casions edifying to saints and sinners. He had the 
counsel and encouragement of the dear mother and 
her earnest prayer, and his sister was guiding angel. 
The Spirit soon made him understand that he must 
begin to gird himself for a life battle in the ranks 
of the itinerant ministry. Books were read and 
questions asked and answered, and sought the best 
answers he could get from the ministers and in the 
home circle. The ministers came but seldom, and 
their tarrying was brief. The books which con- 
tained the best thoughts of the best men of the 
Church of those days and former days were carried 
around for sale. Wesley had produced several 
volumes, and Fletcher and Baxter and John Nel- 
son and Benjamin Abbott had spoken words that 
shook the world, and whenever the family could 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 95 

muster enough money to purchase one of those 
volumes it was added to the scant library and the 
contents were eagerly read and re-read. Work 
went on, and study and prayer were the mottoes of 
the family. When Loring Grant came to his ap- 
pointment once in two weeks he met with a warm 
welcome. Brother Grant invited the young man 
to go with him around his circuit. He did so, and 
tried to talk in the place of the preacher, and once 
he found himself at Keelers in front of a large con- 
gregation trying to preach, stumbling along, and 
finally, at the end of thirty minutes, which seemed 
an age, sat down in despair and wished to get 
where he could hide out of sight. As soon as meet- 
ing closed, and the two preachers were by them- 
selves, he told Brother Grant he wanted to go 
home, but Grant could not consent at all. He had 
not discovered any signs of greatness in the young 
man, nor any great success, and proposed to him to 
try again. That he himself did much worse than 
that when he commenced, and somebody must do 
this work, and all anyone could be expected to do 
was to keep trying and do the best he could. After 
one or two more trials, which were somewhat of an 
improvement on the other, and after the young 
brother had repeated the substance of a sermon he 
had heard, Grant immediately spoke up, " Well, 
Brother Peck, you will make a great man yet." 
This was the first time the term great was applied 
to him, except it had been applied to him by the 
savage old schoolmaster when he would snarl out, 
" Peck, you great dunce, [or, great fool] say your 
lesson/' or some good deal harsher term. The 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

two finally decided to follow each other around 
the large circuit until Conference, and trust in the 
kind Father. On the sixth day of June he rode 
from Hitchcock to Cazenovia on horseback in a 
driving snowstorm. Ice formed on his face and 
in his hair. Then would come visions of the home « 
circle, with the mother and children reading, sing- 
ing, and playing their little games, with a blazing 
fire on the hearth, and the father under shelter 
working out a good living, and enough work for 
himself and his father, and wealth and fortune for 
him in the future; all these feelings were struggling 
in his mind while the chilling snow was driving into 
his neck and a small company of critical people 
awaiting him, or most likely a cold and empty 
house. Homesickness has attacked many a young 
man with less reason for such sickness than George 
Peck then had. However, the sickness was kept to 
himself, and they found their way after a few weeks 
to the house of George Harmon, the presiding 
elder, and the arrangement was made that George 
Peck should preach the year out without pay. 

Reception into the Genesee Conference followed 
that year of preaching for nothing. Then for the 
first time his name appeared in print, alongside of 
the names of the mighty men whose sanctified elo- 
quence was making the mountains shake along the 
St. Lawrence River and across it and the Susque- 
hanna. He is one of them. The drummer boy is 
now a man committed to one work for life. John 
Dempster, his chum on the old Mindon camp 
ground, is in the saddle, and behold, his appoint- 
ment is St. Lawrence, Canada, and George Peck is 

Rev. George Peck, D.D, 97 

at Broome or Binghamton and the region round 
about. His old pastor of Middlefield, who had a 
log parsonage built for him, Benjamin Bidlack, a 
veteran in Washington's army, is set down for Sha- 
mokin. Here is a Conference covering nearly two 
States and both Canadas, and those States the larg- 
est of the whole Union. Marmaduke Pearce is 
presiding elder, his district taking in all the country 
from Williamsport through Wyoming and Canaan, 
everything on up the river to Owego. The Broome 
Circuit reached from Smithville Flats and Green, 
on both sides of the Susquehanna and Chenango 
Rivers, down to Vestal, and everything in sight and 
some that was not in sight. He stayed one night 
at the home of Mr. Hale, whose daughter after- 
ward married Joseph Smith, the notorious Mor- 
mon prophet. Smith found the golden plates from 
which he said he translated the Book of Mormons. 
He found Emma Hale here also and married her. 
The old gentleman Hale took a liking to Mr. Peck 
and treated him kindly, but detested Smith. They 
had no preaching place in any village and no 
church to preach in. George Peck had a resting- 
place with the u Deerslayer." He lived near Kirk- 
wood, and moved into those woods to hunt, and 
that day when the young preacher rode up to the 
door the good lady said they were " out of meat " 
and her man had gone to see if he could bring 
in a deer. The hunter was successful and shot a 
fine buck, and the minister had a piece of it. The 
" Deerslayer " slew a hundred animals a year and 
sold the meat in Philadelphia. This hunter ranged 

the woods way above Great Bend and on over to 

98 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

the Delaware River. McDonough was one of the 
preaching places, yet no church was there. The 
u parlor city " was not a city then and had no 
Methodist preaching. The young preacher was 
called the boy. He was tall and thin. He had no 
carpeted study into which he could enter every 
day and, comfortable in gown and slippers, work 
out his theological propositions and trace out the 
Greek roots. Yet he studied when and where he 
could. He even went away to Norwich and got 
books that had been sent to the presiding elder 
for the preachers to sell or keep and return all un- 
sold. When the time of Conference came he went 
to his father's. The session was in Canada, in the 
village of Elizabeth. He had received fifty dollars 
for his year's work, and pulled through. The next 
Conference put him back on his old charge, where 
he had been wrthout pay. In that circuit lived his 
brother, Luther H. He had been in counsel at the 
Conference with such mighty men as Charles Giles, 
John Kimberline, Loring Grant, and Marmaduke 
Pearce. The appointing power at the next session 
assigned him to Wyoming. He had been ordained 
a deacon with his class, and heard Joshua Soule 
preach; Robert R. Roberts was the Bishop, He 
started from the session of the Conference in Lan- 
sing, N. Y., for " fair Wyoming on Susquehanna's 

He was surprised at his appointment, thinking he 
was too young and inexperienced to fill such an 
important place. He had to measure up even with 
the very best and strongest men of that mighty 
body. He mounted his horse that his father had 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 99 

furnished him with and worked his way into re- 
gions all new to him. Marmaduke Pearce was 
presiding elder and he gave the young brother some 
kind words of encouragement. Finally after days 
of weary riding with his tired horse he saw the 
enchanted ground, Wyoming Valley. He had fifty 
cents in his pocket. Everything was strange to 
him. Everybody was a stranger to him. The 
camp meeting was just closed and the revival was 
going on in the old Forty Fort Church. On Sun- 
day morning, August 9, 18 18, he went into the old 
church to preach and was greeted with a large 
crowd. He was just twenty-one years and a day 
old. A rising young man met that large congre- 
gation, ambitious it may be, yet it was an ambition 
to do good. 

He was remarkable for modesty and a child-like 
spirit, yet he was no child. He made no parade of 
his humble origin as some do and he did not boast 
of a lack of college learning, but all the time he was 
studying like a hero to become as learned in the 
sciences and classics as any man of his age in any 
profession. In the afternoon he preached in Ply- 
mouth, I suppose in the room over the academy. 
The next Sunday he preached in the church which 
stood on the square in Wilkesbarre. In the after- 
noon he went to Hover Hill and preached in the 
Ruggles schoolhouse, and Monday went to Stod- 
dartsville, up the five-mile mountain. About that 
time were the strange sights and scenes connected 
with the old shingle maker in the woods. The 
young minister kept his head and gave good advice 
to persons who were screaming and shrinking away 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

from fiery devils. The people rushed out in 
crowds to hear preaching, for the times seemed to 
be perilous and demons chattered and grinned out 
of the darkness, and men and women started up in 
their waking dreams and rushed to their friends 
for safety, and all hearts seemed to throb uneasily, 
and crowds rushed out to the meetings expecting, 
maybe, to hear the new preacher shake his un- 
combed locks and roll his wild eyes and stamp his 
feet and cry out in spasms that the old world is 
about to be consumed by fire. But they saw and 
heard no such thing from George Peck. He took 
his place in the pulpit, tall and well balanced, calm 
and collected. He would read a hymn and sing it 
and ask the congregation to join with him. Then 
he would kneel down and offer a fervent prayer and 
then take his text, " Do thyself no harm for we are 
all here." Then he would preach logically, point- 
edly, powerfully, and persons who had been star- 
tled with dreams and fearful forebodings would 
walk up to him, not timidly as though approaching 
a stranger, but confidingly as though a dear brother 
was among them. He went into their families and 
sat down in their humble dwellings, knelt and 
prayed with them, ate the humble fare which they 
gladly set before him, rested his horse and himself, 
then went on his way. In fact all the people had 
heard of the flying visits of that strange evangelist, 
Lorenzo Dow, who would preach and fly away to 
some other place, as if in a hurry to get to another 
city before it was destroyed under the outpouring 
of divine wrath. Many were on the point of com- 
mitting suicide, others were blasphemous, and 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 101 

some sinking down into moonless and starless 
atheism. The young minister had been brought 
up among just such people as inhabited this part 
of the State of Pennsylvania. His parents were 
Connecticut people and, many of the inhabitants of 
this region were from the same State and even 
blood relations to him. They hated Indians and 
tories and pitied those possessed of witches. 
George Peck found a field here for the display of 
the best power he could command, and without 
any parade or any circumlocution or any apology 
went to his work, determined to do something. 
He came here to fill the places and occupy the 
pulpits which had been filled by such giants as 
Anning Owen, Benjamin Bidlack, Marmaduke 
Pearce, George Lane, and even Francis Asbury 
had been here and preached and prayed and gone 
half discouraged. The masterly eloquence of 
Valentine Cook had echoed among the mountains 
around Wyoming Valley and those men were then 
enjoying the very prime of their popularity. Now 
comes a young man from the North woods to try 
his measurement alongside of such full grown men. 
He goes to his work just as confidently as ever 
veteran marched to the front in face of a terrible 
foe. In a few weeks he goes to Forty Fort and 
preaches and goes down into the waters of the 
classic and historic river and baptizes the converts 
who had come, warm in their first love, from the 
old camp ground. Elizabeth Myers, who \#as con- 
verted under the spreading oak which stands on 
the opposite side of the street from the Charles 
Shoemaker residence, is one of the number bap- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

tized. Another is Mary Myers, who afterward be- 
came the Gertrude of this romance, and still another 
sister, Martha Myers, who is a convert, joined the 
itinerancy when she married Joseph Castle. After 
this baptism there was a camp meeting announced 
up in Salem, Wayne County, and eight or ten 
gentlemen and ladies, all on horseback, went to i 
that meeting. At its close the young preacher left 
the company of girls and young men and the pre- 
siding elder and took his journey through the for- 
ests to Stoddartsville. Getting around he found 
his way to Forty Fort, half sick he rested some and 
was taken into the care of his Presiding Elder 
Pearce. He soon recovered and went on with his 
work. Vast crowds attended the services in the 
Forty Fort Church. The converts were taken into 
full communion. Among them, Mrs. Gore and 
Mrs. Pettebone. All this time the people, old and 
young, were taking the measurement of their 
young preacher in comparison with the mighty 
men who had gone before him, and I hesitate not 
to say that the universal verdict was that George 
Peck in nowise suffered in comparison with those 
noble men, and the man that records impartial history 
in after years will never discount in the least this 
eulogistic statement of a very near and admiring 
relative. At twenty-one he was a peer among the 
first rank of pulpit orators in the whole church. 
He was a near friend of Charles Miner, the histo- 
rian, legislator, and editor ; a near friend of Judge 
Ross. He was admired and respected by old Dr. 
Miner, who was a leading orator as well as phy- 
sician, and yet not a professor of the Gospel which 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 103 

the Methodists were preaching. The Abbots and 
the Starks and the Searleswere close friends of the 
young preacher. Rich and poor loved him for his 
kindly manner and his generous heart. He studied 
his books as faithfully as any student ever did and 
yet he never shut himself away from the people. 
He mingled with the suffering, toiling people and k 
petted the noisy children. He could preach and 
keep his thoughts in line if a dozen children were 
crying all through his sermon. Here his greatness 
began to appear. This classic valley became the 
scene of his hardest work, his mightiest controver- 
sies with opponents and his greatest victories. He 
found a home in the family of Philip Myers. 
There he slept and rested. In that home he was 
married to Mary Myers, the youngest daughter. 
That home became a dear spot to him, and so 
lasted for all the long years of his life. The mar- 
riage was solemnized on the tenth of June, 1819. How 
changed is everything and everybody now ! I pause 
just long enough in the thread of this romantic 
narrative to drop a tear on the hearthstone of that 
once bright and happy home. The great broad 
hearthstone lies in its place to-day and only last 
month I walked over the spot. The logs and wood- 
work have perished but the stones and brick of the 
oven and old fireplace are there and the walls of 
the old cellar are there. Thomas Bennett and the 
boy Andrew are gone. The former, one of the 
forty who gave name to the fort close by. He 
was the grandfather of Mary Myers Peck. The 
latter was the young hero of the Meshoppen 
tragedy. The father is gone and the blind mother 

104 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

is gone. She it was that sat there by that hearth 
and saw her daughter given to an itinerant minis- 
ter. She it was that went with her mother to have 
an interview with Queen Esther a few days before 
the terrible scenes at " bloody rock. " That same 
Queen Esther was the priestess who presided at 
that tragedy and was the chief executioner. After 
the sight of her eyes had gone out Martha Bennett 
Myers sat by that hearthstone and related the 
scenes of that third of July to the minister, her son- 
in-law. There at the hearth sat Professor Silliman 
and heard the same story in all its tragic details. 
Mary Myers Peck knew it by heart and the truth 
of the whole story was as the mother had often 
given it to her, and having been put on record it 
needs no revision. I brought away a piece of the 
old chimney, a piece of the old oven, and a piece of 
the old hearthstone. In that oven the bread had 
been baked for years and years to feed the hungry 
raftmen who ran down the winding river. In that 
room by that hearth the votes of old Kingston 
township were received through the front window 
for a hundred years. In that same house George 
Myers Peck was born, and I ask pardon of him for 
breaking off the front corner of the old hearth- 
stone. The first child of Mary Myers Peck was 
born here, and in the barn in Kingston occurred the 
tragedy which came so near ending his life. The 
child had concealed himself under some locks of 
hay which one of the girls of the house had thrown 
down, and down came the heavy pitchfork and nearly 
perforated the neck of the little child and the cold 
steel stunned him. Still he is living now and past 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 105 

seventy years of age and has done the life work of a 
strong man. The right side of him was ever after 
this a little less robust than the left. 

But I must resume the story of our young itiner- 
ant. After a year in Wyoming he went to Bridge- 
water, which took in the territory all around Mon- 
trose for miles. His young wife went with him. 
The New England blood was in the veins of both, 
and though they were met by some cold hearts and 
unfriendly hands, and some disputers and very 
learned contradictors, there was no shrinking nor 
weakening. Over on Snake Creek he went to one 
house that was a barn, and being sick and almost 
helpless, he begged to have a little rest, and the 
kind lady gave him words of encouragement and 
administered to him some strong herb tea and put 
him in the granary to rest and sleep. In a few 
hours he was again on his way to further conquests. 
Before the year had closed he was changed to the 
Wyoming District as presiding elder, probably the 
youngest man who had yet been placed at the head 
of a district. Certainly the youngest reckoning the 
time of his ministry. Hardly old enough to be an 
elder. Thus early he began to show what metal 
he was made of. This work on the district was 
laborious and without pay. Yet his wife had the 
opportunity of sitting at the old hearthstone where 
she had spent her childhood days. Then after 
three months the two took their wedding trip to 
Niagara Falls, not to see the great wonder, but to 
attend the Conference which met in Canada near 
by. It was held at Lundy's Lane, where General 
Scott had one of his hard battles with the British. 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

The couple left their home in Forty Fort and 
started in a carriage with wooden springs for 
Canada, and arrived there after a two weeks' jour- 
ney. There he was ordained an elder, though he 
had been acting as presiding elder part of the last 
year. He could only have been a presiding deacon. 
On their way home from Canada to Wyoming they 
stopped at my father's, which visit must have been 
made at the first place where they began to keep 
house, a mile or so north of the old Brackle home- 
stead. This was four years before I was born. 
They reached their Wyoming residence and pre- 
pared to take a trip to Canaan. That was his next 
preaching place for the year to come. He called 
the place the " Beech Woods." The circuit was 
strange to him, so he hurried to get acquainted. 
He found only one place to preach in of any pre- 
tentions, that was the courthouse at Bethany. He 
had no money, and his suit of clothes was one made 
from cloth woven by his mother-in-law. This was 
the charge on which he preached in a borrowed coat, 
for the cloth dressers delayed the cloth for his new 
suit. This also was the charge on which he received 
rye and corn and meal as his salary, and took the 
bags on his horse to his home. There he received 
so much maple sugar that he bartered the surplus 
for a set of wooden-bottomed chairs, and I mis- 
trust his son George has the chairs yet. At Beth- 
any he became acquainted with Hon. David Scott, 
and they were ever fast friends. Judge Hamlin, of 
Salem, gave him rooms for residence rent free. 
The church prospered during the year and prog- 
ress was made. The year ended, and then he went 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 107 

to Conference, which held its session way up in the 
northern part of York State — Paris. He was there in 
time, and among his other duties he was called upon 
to preach at the session and before the bishop. That 
sermon was followed by his appointment in the 
church of that village. There were only three or 
four stations in the whole vast Conference, and 
George Peck was assigned to one of them. His 
power was developing rapidly. He had to read 
and write and study. He resolved to master every 
subject in the line of his profession, and put his 
best thoughts to the front in his public ministra- 
tions. His congregations increased, and the church 
seemed to be prosperous. The next Conference, 
held in Vienna, Ontario County, changed him to 
Utica, another station. Work and study and 
prayer filled up his days. The next Conference 
elected him delegate to the General Conference, 
and he thus commenced his career in legislation. 
He was the youngest man in the delegation, and 
the men together were called " a pack of boys." 
They were elected by ballot and not by seniority. 
The General Conference was exciting, as such 
gatherings always are. The body met in Balti- 
more. Leaving his family in Wyoming he pre- 
pared for a trip to that city. Gideon Lanning and 
Loring Grant came along, driving two horses, one 
ahead of the other, and stopped for refreshment 
and rest at Forty Fort, and invited Brother Peck to 
take a seat in their carriage. He gladly accepted, 
and the trio of legislators made their way over Po- 
cono Mountain and in three days reached Phila- 
delphia. The youngest of the Northern delegates 

108 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

preached in the Quaker City twice. On they went, 
leaving their team at Port Deposit, and rode on 
steamboat the remainder of the journey. The elec- 
tion of bishops was exciting. The lines were then 
and there drawn between North and South. Two 
candidates for bishop were named in a Southern 
consultation, and two among the Northern dele- 
gates. George Peck was deputized to inform Elijah 
Hedding that he was nominated as one of the 
candidates for bishop, and John Emory was the 
other from the North. He found Hedding in 
tears. Hedding and Soule were elected after three 
or four ballots. We thus early find George Peck 
in the very inside of the grand council chamber of 
the Church, modest and true. At the gathering of 
that important legislative body he studied men, 
their modes and elocution. He observed how men 
of different classes and tastes pursue lines of action ; 
he noticed how lines were laid and wires were 
pulled. He heard the greatest orators of the whole 
Church on both sides of the water. He heard the 
mellifluous oratory of that master, the youthful John 
Summerfield. He listened to the thrilling adventures 
of James B. Finley among the Wyandot Indians 
of the West. At the Annual Conference of that year 
he was assigned to Wyoming Circuit, but before he 
had commenced his rounds he was changed to Pre- 
siding Elder of Wyoming District, or Susquehanna, 
as it was then called. At the session he had been 
Chairman of the Committee on Education, and took 
the lead in founding Cazenovia Seminary. It was 
at that session founded and chartered by the State. 
He was not a graduate of any school, and nobody 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 109 

suspected that he was, and yet he could read the 
Scripture both in Greek and Hebrew, and that is 
more than some pretentious graduates could do 
then or now. He came to the district trembling, 
and yet trusted in God. He was twenty-seven 
years old, and had only eight years in the ministry, 
with his preparatory work to do as he went along. 
His district reached to and embraced Bainbridge 
and Ithaca. While absent the accident to his little 
boy happened. He was away for six weeks in some 
instances. He had his long rides, his preaching 
and his studies all to attend to, and two famous 
controversialists to look after. One was a Unitarian 
and the other a Universalist. Then was his first 
appearance in print, and he was forced into that 
controversy against his will ; but with ease he de- 
molished Marsh, and the man left to return no 
more. Next, our hero turns up in the town of Ox- 
ford, and a great revival swept over the village. 
Skeptical men came to the altar in tears, leading 
citizens surrendered. On one of his trips to Oxford 
, he took his wife in a carriage, and on returning he 
met a terrible snowstorm in Owego. In that place 
he went to work and constructed a sleigh, a rough 
one, and not cushioned or painted. Here his mechan- 
ical knowledge came into good use. This sleigh 
lasted until the snow disappeared, and then procur- 
ing another carriage he managed to get home and 
get his family home. After two years on the dis- 
trict he was changed to Wyoming Circuit. Then it 
was that Wilkesbarre began to try to stand alone 
as a circuit, and George Peck was inaugurated as 
pastor. He moved into a little old house on Frank- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

lin Street, near where the Harvey building now 
stands, and Kingston was left to other shepherds. 
When the year closed Conference came to Wilkes- 
barre, and Presbyterians and Methodists opened 
their houses and hearts to entertain the traveling 
men. But the brotherly love which prevailed be- 
tween the denominations came near being annihi- 
lated by an ill-timed sermon against the Calvinists 
and their doctrines. This was felt keenly by the 
Presbyterians, and no wonder. The preachers were 
their guests, and they looked for at least civil treat- 
ment. But those were feudal days, and blows were 
given and taken. 

The next Conference elected delegates, and the 
General Conference convened in Pittsburg. The 
session was not very tedious nor exciting. Bishop 
Soule came near being reprimanded, if not more, 
for having preached a sermon which some thought 
savored of a new theology. The matter was finally 
settled by saving the bishop but condemning his 
sermon. George Peck wound up his affairs in 
Wilkesbarre at the end of the year, and at the ses- 
sion of the Conference went to Utica again, thence 
to Cazenovia. Then a serious fit of sickness laid 
him aside, but after long waiting he recovered. 
Elected to the General Conference for another 
term he made his first speech in that body. It was 
in favor of building pewed churches, but the change 
failed for want of votes. But the pews have come 
somehow without the votes of that General Con- 
ference. Next came a move to Auburn. Before 
the year closed a great revival followed his advent 
to Auburn, and this was followed by a move at 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. Ill 

Conference to Cazenovia Seminary as principal of 
that new high school, which he had been chiefly 
instrumental in founding. Here his powers in 
administration were needed, and they were shown 
not to be wanting. He was wise in counsel, quick 
in execution. An infidel student who undertook 
in a seminary essay to bring Christianity into dis- 
repute was ordered to stop in his reading, and did. 
He was ordered to leave his composition in the 
hands of the officers of the school. This he re- 
fused. Then the trustees voted his expulsion, and 
he was ordered to leave the next day by nine 
o'clock, and that order he promptly obeyed. He 
was told emphatically that he could not insult 
Christianity in a school founded by a religious 
body, and the Oneida Conference was such a body. 
The principal of the school was an instructor of the 
classes in the Hebrew language. He was a teacher 
also in intellectual and moral philosophy, logic, 
and rhetoric, managed the financial affairs of the 
institution, preached one sermon each Sunday 
for the pastor in town, and did some studying on 
his own account. There were two George Pecks in 
the school as students, one a nephew and the other 
the son whose neck had been perforated by cold 
steel several years before. Both these young men 
were named after him, and he was not yet forty 
years of age. I, a mere boy, was in Cazenovia, and 
ate at the table of the principal of the high school, 
and slept under his roof, played with the younger 
children, Helen and Luther W. We walked out in 
the evening after supper, and Helen sang a solo in 
the streets, as follows: 

112 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

" Clear the kitchen, old folks, young folks, 
Old Virginia never tires," etc. 

We boiled molasses candy and ate it, and in that I 
was the equal of my cousin, but in everything else 
I was a little too rustic. I went to my Brackle 
home in tears because I could not play barnball 
with Luther any more. 

While in this school the whole family of George 
Peck was seriously assailed with disease, and the 
physician advised them to take a trip South. So 
the principal sent in a request to be released, and 
preparations were made for departure to the sunny 
land. The three children were left in Cazenovia. 
They could go on with their studies under the in- 
struction and government of Hanford Colburn. 
The father, mother, and infant son departed with 
some misgivings and with some hope. They went 
by stage to Syracuse, and then touched Auburn and 
Ithaca, then Owego. On the way they heard a mar- 
velous sermon from W. W. Ninde, whose son is now 
bishop. From Owego they made their way to 
Wyoming Valley, and after a little rest in the old 
home at Forty Fort they embarked on a packet 
canal boat at Wilkesbarre and moved down the 
wild Susquehanna. At Northumberland they were 
delayed long enough so that the travelers visited 
the tomb of Joseph Priestley, who discovered oxy- 
gen gas. He had died the 16th of February, 1804. 
The travelers found their way to Hollidaysburg 
and there met John P. Durbin. Then they struck 
Pittsburg and went by boat to Louisville, Ky., 
where he preached twice on the Sabbath. Then 
the next stop was Nashville, Tenn., and the drum- 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 113 

mer boy of other days, the blacksmith's son, found 
his way to the Hermitage, where he found Andrew 
Jackson at home. Jackson had then retired from 
the White House and given place to Martin Van 
Buren. Jackson wore his many honors meekly, and 
the minister sat down by his side, and they talked 
together as friend with friend. The ex-President 
invited him to remain with him until the next day, 
and he accepted. They talked over old political 
contests, and most likely " on the square," for my 
earliest recollections of party politics were of Jack- 
son men and antimasons. Three weeks were spent 
in Nashville, and that was as far South as they 
went. We do not wonder that the parents thought 
often of that group of children in the far North, 
watching and waiting for their return. They started 
homeward feeling that the journey had been help- 
ful to them in many ways. A slow, tedious jour- 
ney brought them to Wilkesbarre. I remember 
reading the story of this trip on the Ohio in the 
old Christian Advocate in my father's house in my 
Brackle home. 

The Oneida Conference met in Norwich, Che- 
nango County, N. Y. At this Conference George 
Peck was appointed Presiding Elder of Susque- 
hanna District, and again elected a delegate to the 
legislative body. He had already developed tre- 
mendous powers, and the drummer boy was out of 
his boyhood, a little past forty years old. He had 
preached alongside of the greatest men in the 
Church, here or in England, and did not suffer in 
the comparison. He had preached and spoken from 
the same platform and pulpits as had echoed with 

114 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

the impassioned oratory of Stephen Olin and the 
polished rhetoric of Wilbur Fisk, and though 
younger than either he was considered a full 
equal, while in counsel his opinions were more 
sought after than theirs. He was also an educator 
of the highest grade, while as a patriot he took 
no back seat for any living man. About the year 
1843 I g°t hold of a little printed book containing 
in full a Fourth of July oration of his published by 
request of the best men in the town where the ora- 
tion was delivered. It seems to me it was Caze- 
novia. I committed one page of the oration to 
memory, and it commenced as follows: "And 
though America has no one of her fair daughters 
elevated upon a throne of royalty," and so on, and 
something about her " fair hand " given to some 
document that would send a man to the gallows or 
the block or the guillotine. Then followed a very 
fine eulogy on American women. In a few months 
from that time I attended a mass meeting of the 
Sons of Temperance in Dorranceton, in the Pres- 
byterian church, and a prominent Wilkesbarre 
lawyer made the oration, and along in the body of 
his masterly speech he recited this same passage 
from George Peck's Fourth of July oration, and I, 
perhaps, was the only one in the large audience 
that noticed the quotation, and certainly never 
mentioned it from that day to this. The old church 
is now gone and the lawyer is gone, and George 
Peck's body rests in the Forty Fort cemetery near 
the spot where he married his wife, and I am left to 
place on paper some estimate of his work and 
worth. The Wilkesbarre orators, both at the bar 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 115 

and in the pulpit, and the judges of court took him 
into their circles as an equal. Sharp D. Lewis, a 
long-time editor and justice of the peace, was glad 
to have the friendship of the minister, and he was 
just as glad to have his. In these less mature days 
of his ministry he was reckoned a full-grow r n man. 
After returning from his Southern trip and his fifth 
election to the General Conference, he hastened to 
Cazenovia to greet his children and to inform them 
that they were going to move to fair Wyoming, and 
they danced in glee. Then came the hurried pack- 
ing up, the youthful good-bys to schoolmates, and 
soon the move was accomplished. At Grandfather 
Myers's they could play upon the old hearthstone 
and watch the slow-moving waters of the river, and 
see plainly the historic Monocanock Island, where 
bloody tragedies were enacted sixty-one years be- 
fore. Then a move to their mother's house on 
their own land at the foot of the West Mountain, 
where grew the old chestnut tree and the rich fruit 
in the old orchard. But the home joys must be 
left to the mother and children. The Quarterly 
Meetings made their continued demand upon the 
father. Even in these busy days, with honors heaped 
upon him, he sat for hours at the feet of William 
Reddy, one of his preachers, and learned the Chris- 
tian perfection which he experienced and spread 
upon the pages of his book w r ith that title. He 
found Major Dixon over on the Delaware River, 
heard his prayers and exhortations, and pronounced 
him a very remarkable man, and they became at 
once fast friends. Major Dixon was for years a 
prominent man in legislative affairs in the State, 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

and always brought back his moral character and 
Christian zeal from the capital, and that is more 
than can be said of some. That very year, 1839, 
Grandmother Peck died. I remember distinctly 
the letter that came to my father at his Brackle 
home, and the wording of it was thus : 

u Dearly Beloved Brother: 

" This must be the bearer of heavy tidings. Our 
dear mother is no more." 

" J. T. Peck." 

George Peck paused long enough in his reforma- 
tory work to make this record as to his mother, 
who once sat in my father's home by the chamber 
door — sat and sung. She was a true mother in 
Israel. " Kind and conciliatory, with a strong and 
victorious faith. She cared for the sick and poor, 
and sought diligently the wandering, the discour- 
aged, and the reckless." Dr. Erastus Wentworth 
was present at the death of Grandmother Peck, 
and drew with his pencil the likeness which is 
found in this volume. The whole scene and sur- 
roundings he described long afterward, as follows: 
" Sacred music is appropriate to the chamber of 
death. At that hour, when worldly concerns have 
receded, when it is almost profanation to converse 
above a whisper, the sacred song ' may stir the 
brooding air/ Years ago I stood by the deathbed 
of a mother in Israel — a venerable servant of God. 
In other days a leader of sacred song, was waiting 
to close the eyes of the companion of his youth. 
The breeze of an autumnal evening rustled the 
drapery of the open window, but besides this there 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 117 

was no sound save the deep breathing of the aged 
sufferer. Suddenly the soft, silvery, tremulous voice 
of the white-haired veteran fell upon the ear: 
" 1 Give joy or grief, give ease or pain, 

Take life or friends away ; 
But let me find them all again 
In that eternal day/ 

" I fancied that the dying saint listened to the 
music of two worlds, and listening, smiled and died." 

The same Erastus Wentworth came to Dickin- 
son College, when I was in school there, as one of 
the professors, and while there his wife died, and we 
laid her in the narrow house. I remember the next 
Sunday that he took any part in the pulpit of the 
Methodist church in Carlisle, he read the hymn, 
" On Jordan's stormy banks I stand, and cast," etc. 
When Professor Wentworth came to the lines : 

" No chilling winds, or poisonous breath, 

Can reach that healthful shore ; 
Sickness and sorrow, pain and death, 

Are felt and feared no more ; " 

at the word ' death ' his voice faltered and he 
nearly broke down. George Peck makes a record 
in his journal of some financial dissatisfaction. His 
receipts from the district for the year were only 
three hundred dollars, and his house over back of 
the marsh needed repairs ; and right then offers 
came from two or three directions to take charge 
of literary institutions ; but he hastened away to 
Baltimore to General Conference, and there heard 
Dr. Newton preach to an immense multitude from 
the piazza of Barnum's Hotel, in Monument Square. 
Dr. Newton was a delegate from the Wesleyan 
Church in England. 

118 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

In the same square he listened to Henry Clay 
speak to an immense crowd in advocacy of the elec- 
tion of General William Henry Harrison for Presi- 
dent. He heard Graves, from Kentucky, in the 
same line. He had been notorious in a duel, in 
which he killed a man — maybe Cilly. He at the 
same place also heard Daniel Webster in behalf of 
Harrison and the Whigs. He admired the oratory 
of Webster. George Peck was the originator and 
the first moving spirit in the founding of Wyoming 
Seminary. " One evening in the latter part of Oc- 
tober, 1839, h e delivered an address in the old 
church at Forty Fort on the subject of education, 
in which he advanced the idea that a Methodist 
seminary was needed in the Wyoming Valley, and 
that Kingston furnished as good a location as 
could be found for such an institution." (See 
Life and Times of George Peck, page 214.) This 
was three years prior to the Conference resolutions 
on the subject. He went to the General Conference 
in the midst of the Tippecanoe and Tyler too cam- 
paign, when all other interests were postponed, and 
all other noises were drowned in the political earth- 
quake. While in the Church the muttering thun- 
der of antislavery began to roll along the Northern 
horizon, and in the General Conference the matter 
could not be passed by without some notice. In 
the year 1840 George Peck was appointed on the 
Committee on Slavery, and he was elected secretary 
of the committee. He was appointed on the Com- 
mittee on Pastoral Address, and the committee 
appointed him to write it, and it went to the 
Church as he wrote it, and it went upon the journal 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 119 

without revision and no name attached to it — not 
credited to him. This showed that the great legis- 
lative body had the highest confidence in his 

From this Conference he goes home only to 
gather up his family effects and move to the city 
of New York. He had learned to love the Wy- 
oming Valley home ; so had the wife and children, 
but he with no hesitation moved to the city and 
commenced his work as Editor of the Quarterly Re- 
view, The highest literary organ of the Church was 
committed to the charge of the boy of old Gen- 
esee Conference. It may not be remarkable that 
the Review did not die in the hands of the new 
editor, yet it is all true that other periodicals in the 
Church have been able to go on for some years quite 
prosperously, and lie down quietly in their little 
grave. What has become of the National Maga- 
zine, which started out with such a flourish of 
trumpets ? And where is that publication that 
used to greet us every month, called the Ladies* 
Repository ? The truth is that the Quarterly Re- 
view assumed a more commanding position during 
those years than it ever had held before, and when 
John McClintock took charge as editor it held a 
position in the Church very like the old Edinburgh 
Review across the sea, though much younger. The 
names of Peck, McClintock, and Whedon will live 
as long on fame's bright page as any name which 
ever adorned the Scotch thunderer ; and even now 
very few people can give the names of any of those 
editors. Maybe some men who have been extensive 
readers would think of Henry Brougham. Yet he 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

would have been forgotten long ago if it had not 
been for the lampooning he gave Lord Byron, and 
the worse one he got back. As to the other editors 
of that ultramarine Review, most people will have 
to resort to the cyclopedias before they can pro- 
nounce their names. The Methodist Quarterly 
Review, and indeed all our Church periodicals, and 
the Church itself, were coming right into the midst 
of quaking mountains and uneasy rocks, and the 
foundations were beginning to shake, and crevices 
gaped in the walls that surrounded us, while the 
keel of the Ship of State showed signs of straining 
to leave its fastenings. It w r as absolutely neces- 
sary to have men at the head of the Church period- 
icals who would not lose their heads nor their 
hearts when the shock should come. The North 
and the South already were forming their lines for 
the contest. The Genesee delegate entered the 
arena, and Dr. Thomas E. Bond met him face to 
face ; the contest for Editor of the Quarterly 
was close, yet George Peck was elected. Bond 
was from the South, and Peck from the North. 
Then without much trouble Dr. Bond was 
elected Editor of The Christian Advocate. Then 
the old Advocate became the thunderer, the 
organ of the Methodist Episcopal Church North, 
South, East, and West. These two leading editors 
were good friends, and grew to love each other like 
brothers, both warm supporters of Andrew Jack- 
son. George Peck went to the General Conference 
with " no aspirations in editorial direction ; his mind 
was the establishment of a seminary in the Wy- 
oming Valley. He had had some experience in 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 121 

the management of an institution of that kind, and 
some taste for the work of a teacher/' (See Life of 
George Peck, page 229.) While Editor of the 
Quarterly he became a member of the New York 
Conference,without a transfer, by the law of the Dis- 
cipline. He went to work, however, just as earnestly 
in a strange Conference as he had worked with the 
men among whom he was born and converted, and 
with whom he entered the ministry. His work was 
to edit the Review, and edit everything else that 
needed editing, except the old Advocate. He was 
put upon a plan to preach regularly in the city and 
in Brooklyn, and in a few months his health failed 
again. But the strifes of those days are matters of 
record. There arose in the West a star of the first 
magnitude. Henry B. Bascom attracted wide 
attention. Tall, good looking, eloquent, powerful. 
I once heard the wife of Charles B. Tippett say that 
she had heard Bascom preach on the "days of Noah. " 
She declared that in his flights and vivid descrip- 
tions she could see the rising waters as they sur- 
rounded the wicked people, and at the close the 
vast audience was more than spellbound. This 
man was a prime mover in the secession of the 
Southern wing of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
and he and George Peck met as contending cham- 
pions for the two wings of Methodism. The 
leading men of the Church, such as Nathan Bangs, 
Charles Elliot, and Tobias Spicer, would stand aside 
for him to measure lances with Bascom. Pam- 
phlets were issued by both, which speak for them- 
selves. The world will consent to-day that Bas- 
com was nowhere in the hands of the rising giant 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

from the Genesee territory. One was fiery, elo- 
quent, and dealt in pathos ; while the other was 
calm and logical, and his arguments were such that 
they surrounded him like walls of adamant. The 
contest was mainly to see which side would 
hold the border States. The side that carried the 
old Baltimore and Philadelphia Conferences would 
be the stronger. Our editors in those stormy days 
detested slavery, and the wonder was to a great 
many how they could hold on to the border Con- 
ference and maintain their consciences. George 
Peck was working all the time to hold the Church 
together, and, if there must be a secession, it should 
be as small a one as possible. He never denounced 
the slaveholders, nor did he denounce the abolition- 
ists. Others did, and wondered why he did not, 
and maybe were afflicted with him because he did 
not. Looking back to those days now, I can see 
plainly that his position was the proper one. Not 
that he stretched his conscience to save the Church, 
nor to wink at evil that good may come, but to 
save the t border churches, and keep them in our 
communion for the sake of the nine tenths of their 
membership who held no slaves. And that was a 
success. Look at the result to-day. The old 
Church stands head and shoulders above her rebel- 
lious sister in wealth and power and conscience. 
Old Baltimore Conference is one of our mightiest 
Conferences, and when Alfred Griffith, John A. 
Collins, Richard Brown, N. J. B. Morgan, and 
J. M. Reiley were leaders its territory took in a 
large part of Pennsylvania, all of Maryland, and 
reached way down into Virginia, and took in Wash- 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 123 

ington, the capital city. I went into Maryland in 
1852, and, being so soon after the division, the 
strifes were running high. I boarded a year in the 
home of a slaveholder, and kept a good conscience 
all the time. The man was a local preacher. We 
met in Quarterly Conference together, and he was 
the only member of that Quarterly Conference that 
held slaves, and though I detested slavery I main- 
tained a conscience void of offense. Nobody 
brought charges against the local preacher, and I 
certainly did not. I thus kept my head on my 
shoulders, and that fact has been a great help to 
me all my life. He took The Richmond Christian 
Advocate, edited by Leroy M. Lee, and he was 
spiteful, and during those days had a mock funeral 
over George Peck. " Here lies a peck of dust." But 
the Church, North, was then sending its preachers 
all through Baltimore and all through Washing- 
ton, and way down into the Old Dominion, and 
that was one thing that made Lee so spiteful. The 
strong border Conferences marched under the old 
flag. These border Conferences were worth saving 
to us, as the sequel shows. Not because it saved 
to us the few slaveholders in them, but because of 
the nine tenths of members and all the preachers 
who held no slaves. If I or anyone else in that 
Quarterly Conference had preferred charges against 
Brothers Water — mine host, the local preacher — we 
would have been nonsuited by two separate pleas: 
One, that the laws of the State would not recognize 
the emancipation ; and the other plea, that he 
bought Isaac at an auction to keep him from being 
sold South, thus being parted from his wife Re- 

124 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

becca. His wife did our cooking in the kitchen. 
In case of a Church trial on that indictment the 
prosecutor would have been nonsuited by the ad- 
ministration, and maybe he would have been dis- 
charged from the official board, if not from the 
country. I listened more than I talked when the 
question of slavery was up. The wife of Brother 
Waters was a Gorsuch, a sister of Rev. John Gor- 
such, and also that Gorsuch who was nearly killed 
in Lancaster on his trip up into Pennsylvania to 
capture his escaped slaves. A mob of slaves fired 
upon Gorsuch, and he rushed, bleeding, away from 
the scene, and made his way back to Maryland. 
Out of that little unpleasantness grew a trial for 
treason before Judge Grier, and John W. Forney 
was one of the counsel. Sister Waters was terribly 
mad always when the question came up, when she 
would remark that her poor brother would carry 
the bullets of those wicked Negroes in his body to 
the grave. She always treated me as kindly as a 
mother could treat a child, and when I left for my 
first charge in the Wyoming Conference we parted 
in the best of friendship. I once heard while there 
one of the Baltimore preachers make this remark, 
" Lee is a great liar." This referred to Leroy M. 
Lee, of The Richmond Christian Advocate. I told 
Sister Waters of the remark, and she sighed 
deeply, and said that it had come to a strange pass 
when ministers would call each other liars. The 
funeral over George Peck was certainly premature. 
True we lost some preachers in the extreme North, 
and we lost some on the border. My pastor, the 
eloquent and gifted Dabney Ball, was a chaplain 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 125 

in Lee's army at Gettysburg. But the masses of the 
preachers and members of the Baltimore Conference 
stood by us all along through the dark days of the re- 
bellion, and we very much needed them. The war 
might have resulted quite differently if the Church 
line between North and South had run this side of 
Washington, along through the center of Pennsyl- 
vania. Lincoln could not certainly then have said, 
" The Methodist Church sends more soldiers to the 
army and more prayers to heaven than any other." 

George Peck came near being elected bishop in 
1844. Yet both the men elected never hesitated 
to admit that he was their equal in scholarship, 
oratory, legislative wisdom, and administrative abil- 
ity. He had more to do with all the legislation of 
the Church than any bishop can have. He was 
Editor of the Review eight years and The Christian 
Advocate four years. There was as much thunder 
in the " thunderer " during those four years as 
there ever was before or ever has been since, and 
there was a fair degree of lightning, especially for 
those times. His name and writings will last as 
long as those of Daniel Curry, or Bishop Simpson, 
or Thomas E. Bond, or Nathan Bangs, or John P. 
Durbin, and I have been always an enthusiastic 
admirer of all these men, and so was he. His his- 
tory of Wyoming is as wonderful and thrilling as 
Stevens's History of Methodism and his Early 
Methodism, and his other works will be quoted 
among men while the world stands. His trip 
across the ocean needs a passing notice. He was 
trying hard to hold the Baltimore men steady to 
the Church, and yet he had not lost his hold upon 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

the affections of his old Northern bodyguard. 
Oneida and Black River Conferences elected him to 
represent them in the Evangelical Alliance to meet 
in London. He went, and had a grand opportu- 
nity to see the working of Protestantism the world 
over. Indeed, his great success in life has grown 
out of his careful observation of men, their mode 
of expressing thought, their reformatory plans and 
execution. He learned as much in this way as he 
ever did from books, still he read all the books he 
could. His traveling companions across the ocean 
were President Robert Emory, of Dickinson Col- 
lege, and Professor Caldwell, Dr. Roberts, of Balti- 
more, Dr. John Kennedy, of Philadelphia, and 
George Webber, of Maine. They observed on 
board William Lloyd Garrison with a copy of the 
Wandering Jew under his arm. They had some- 
what of a shipwreck and a fright, but went on with 
a leak in their steamer, and on the fifteenth day 
arrived in Liverpool. They went to Bristol and 
saw the Wesleyan Conference in session there. 
Dr. Bunting was the leader of the conservatives and 
Beaumont of the progressives, both powerful deba- 
ters. There was more noisy approval in the Eng- 
lish Conference than prevailed in the body at home. 
They saw the old chapel built by Wesley, heard 
Stanley Rowland and Beaumont and Atherton. 
They went from Bristol to Ireland, preached in 
Dublin, and attended service in St. Patrick's Cathe- 
dral. They visited the museum, the Bank, the old 
House of Lords, the University, and the castle. 
They saw the Greek manuscript of the New Testa- 
ment, of unknown age, yet of high authority. They 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 127 

had an interview with the great Liberator, Daniel 
O'Connell, and were invited into his study, after 
giving assurance that they were not slaveholders. 
O'Connell had on a green blouse. He was proud to 
be visited by such distinguished gentlemen from 
America. They left the great man and crossed 
Loch Lomond and slept all night at the head of 
the lake. Then they went to Glasgow, then to 
Edinburgh, saw a sunset from Arthur's seat, vis- 
ited the home of John Knox, visited Holy Rood, 
the old palace of Mary Queen of Scots, saw the 
queen's private room, her bed and chairs, Lord 
Darnley's boots and spurs, and spots of blood from 
the murdered Rizzio. They went to Melrose, saw 
the ruins of the ancient abbey by twilight, six hun- 
dred years old, and the grave of Sir Walter Scott ; 
sat in his chair, leaned upon his desk, saw Rob 
Roy's gun and Scott's suit of tweed, also his spade, 
hoe, and pruning knife. Then they went to New- 
castle-upon-Tyne on a rainy day. They went 
to York, and from there to Chesterfield. Then went 
to London ; there they saw Dr. Stephen Olin. De- 
voted eight days to sight-seeing. George Peck 
was entertained by Edward Corderoy, Esq., and 
there remained through the sessions of the Alli- 
ance. He was a Methodist. At the bishop's pal- 
ace he saw the portraits of all the Archbishops of 
Canterbury, ascended the tower, and went into the 
prison of the Lollards. There the followers of 
Wyclif were incarcerated ; whence some went to 
the scaffold and some to flames. There they saw 
the rings to which those persecuted people were 
chained. Westminster Abbey was a place of 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

absorbing interest to him. The names of Shakes- 
peare, Milton, Gray, Dryden, Goldsmith, and Spen- 
ser are here sculptured, and in this is the old 
throne, an oaken chair with high-pointed back. 
Shakespeare stands there with his index ringer 
pointing up to a quotation from " The Tempest." 
That quotation is chiseled in the marble as follows : 

° And like the baseless fabric of this vision, 
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, 
And like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a reck behind." 

The marble walls and columns already begin 
to show signs of the waste of centuries. There 
they saw the oblong stone which served for the 
throne of Scotch kings, and served also for a 
pillow for Jacob's head when he was on his way 
to Padan-aram. In the tower the visitors saw 
Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth on horses, clad 
in the armor of their century. The crown is there 
which was placed upon the head of Victoria at her 
coronation. There they saw the block on which 
royal heads were amputated, and marks and cuts in 
the block by the ax when the fatal blow was struck. 
But this sight-seeing must be given up for the con- 
vening of the Alliance. This was the greatest gath- 
ering of Christians in history, not excepting the 
Council of Nice. It met in Freemason's Hall, Au- 
gust 19, 1846. George Peck was always careful 
about dates. This appeared in his first public 
speech. " Two weeks ago last Thursday God con- 
verted my soul." How much more satisfactory 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 129 

this is than to get off the proverbial " once upon a 
time ! V 

There were nine hundred delegates in conference ; 
Sir Culling Eardley Smith presided. The United 
States sent seventy, of whom seventeen were from 
the Methodist Episcopal Church. There were two 
camp meeting boys ; one of them was the same who 
slept under a brush fence and had his sack of din- 
ner spoiled by rain. John Dempster and George 
Peck were in counsel with John Angell James, Dr. 
Wardlaw, Hon. and Rev. Baptiste W. Noel, Horace 
Binney, Howard Hinton, Edward Bickersteth, Dr. 
Reffles, Dr. Bunting, Adolph Monad, and the Amer- 
icans like Stephen Olin and Erskine Mason. Demp- 
ster had found room to " crawl in with the boys." 

In one of their social gatherings Tobias Spicer 
made a remark to one of the Englishmen that came 
near resulting in bloodshed, but George Peck, as- 
sisted by others, settled the matter after two efforts. 
He was always a peacemaker. 

A party of close friends headed by Corderoy, the 
kind host, went to interview Hampton Court, which 
was erected by Cardinal Wolsey. They went into 
the cardinal's room and read the mottoes in colored 
glass. In the grounds was seen a grapevine seventy- 
eight years old and " covering twenty-two hundred 
square feet. ,, 

Dempster and Peck made the responses to the 

farewell speeches when the Alliance broke up. 

They had in their deliberations inaugurated " The 

Week of Prayer," to be observed the world over the 

first week in January every year as time goes on. 

These traveling Americans made a hasty trip to 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

France and looked through Paris, walked through 
its picture galleries, saw the Gothic towers of a 
church built before printing was invented, or the 
revolutions of the earth were known. They saw 
the table on which Napoleon I wrote his abdica- 
tion, and there were plainly to be seen marks made 
with a penknife by the great captain while in the 
agonies of disappointment. They went into the 
room occupied by Napoleon and Josephine while 
she was his wife. They saw the Notre Dame, the 
Chamber of Deputies, the Louvre, and garden of 
plants, the Pantheon, and the Church of St. Gene- 
vieve. Here lie buried Voltaire, Mirabeau, and 
Rousseau. In the chapel of the Hotel des Inval- 
ides " sleep the ashes of the great Napoleon. M 
They saw the curious bed of Louis Phillippe. Half 
of it soft down and the other half a plank, the 
plank for himself to rest upon. They went to the 
forest of Versailles. There Louis XVII and his 
queen were arrested and carried in a cart to perish 
beneath the guillotine. Leaving Fontainebleau 
and then Paris, the company passed through Bel- 
gium and Waterloo and came to Cologne on the 
Rhine. At Weisfaden they remained over Sab- 
bath and ate a long dinner, two hours long. 
Brother Peck was here reminded of the old Middle- 
field drum corps ; a band played music during the 
dinner. From this place of rest and refreshment 
they went to Rotterdam, ascended the tower, and 
saw The Hague, Delft, and Dort ; sailed from that 
place to Blackwell and then went to London and 
Liverpool, then away to Boston and New York, 
reaching home Saturday, October 3. 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 131 

At the close of his editorial career, which was a 
grand success and lasted twelve years, he pursued 
his studies, writing, reading, and careful observa- 
tion. He was sociable and companionable. Per- 
sons are living to-day who very vividly remember 
his sermons of years ago and quote them in detail 
and many of the circumstances. The most mar- 
velous effect of any sermon ever heard by the 
people in Wyoming Valley was of one preached by 
him in the old church which stood on the square 
in Wilkesbarre. It was back in the year 1839. 
He preached one evening on the Last Judgment, 
and a great crowd of people of different classes and 
tastes were present, and the minister was then in 
the possession of all his best powers. The old gallery 
was crowded all around the auditorium. In the 
midst of the closing up portions of the discourse 
the effect became so marked that some began to 
mourn and cry, some kneeled down and began to 
pray, when all at once there was a general cry for 
mercy and pardon ; people rushed to the front and 
kneeled down, some fell upon their faces. One 
who was there declares that the scene was over- 
whelming. She herself cried and shrieked at the 
top of her voice, and it looked as though a great 
light had flashed from the pulpit like an awful 
search light thrown upon the audience, filling the 
whole body of the church and revealing the secrets of 
every soul present. The noise of penitential prayer 
was universal, and the praying men and women bent 
low to get a grasp upon the cross. The tramp of 
the Almighty Saviour seemed to be making the 
earth quake. Five seats full of penitents bowed 

132 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

their faces low in the dust, and an almost breathless 
crowd looked down from the old galleries. Until 
long past midnight conversions followed each other, 
and the shouts of victory hardly died away when the 
next day appeared. The homes of the people be- 
came places of prayer and song. The next night 
Dayton F. Reed preached, and the revival went on 
with great power and success. This revival was a 
marked occasion in the annals of the old Wilkes- 
barre society, and yet it has been left to a young 
convert, who was there on that awful night and 
was converted among the rest, to give me these 
details and tell me what part George Peck took in 
the meeting. They tell of an old church down South 
where John P. Durbin once preached on the Judg- 
ment, and the effect was such the people rushed to 
the doors and windows, screaming and crying and 
demolishing sash and glass in their rage to get 
away. I have no doubt of this since I have heard 
this story from the lips of the faithful and aged 
sister who was then a little girl. She told a man 
when she started for church that night that she was 
going to get religion. 

I look into the Minutes of the old Oneida Con- 
ference for that year and find Wilkesbarre credited 
with one hundred and fifty members, George Peck, 
presiding elder ; David Holmes, pastor. The 
next report gave Wilkesbarre credit for over three 
hundred members, so there is not any question 
about the whole thrilling narrative. This good 
lady says David Holmes was the pastor and Day- 
ton F. Reed was the evangelist. I was in that old 
church myself at the Conference four years later 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 133 

when Uncle George was Editor of the Quarterly Re- 
view and lived in New York. He came up to his 
old Conference and was announced to preach on 
Sunday morning at eight o'clock. My father and 
mother were in the audience. The old green cur- 
tain hung up in the pulpit, and when Uncle George 
arose he looked weak and pale, but his voice was 
full and strong as he announced his first hymn ; and 
lo, it was an old hymn that I had so often heard in 
my home on the old Brackle road. 

" O, tell me no more of this world's vain store 
The time for such trifles with me now is o'er." 

I was really glad to hear the hymn and supposed 
of course that the same old tune would be sung, 
but the choir sang another tune called Lyons. 
The text was, " Seeing we are compassed about 
with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside 
every weight," etc. I overheard men say that the 
sermon was the equal of that one preached at 10.30 
by Dr. Stephen Olin in the same pulpit. 

In the afternoon of that day I followed the crowd 
of people up to the grove and heard John 
McClintock preach on Perfect Love. Elias Bowen 
led the singing. 

" O love divine, how sweet thou art ! 
When shall I find my willing heart 
All taken by thee ? " 

Another old tune made the woods ring. I heard 
Uncle George exhort on the camp ground in the 
year 1854. The effect was marvelous; ministers, 
old and young, sat in the stand and sobbed like 
children, and could not help it. Some nearly wilted 
to the floor. The trees seemed to be moved as 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

by a breeze from heaven. The meeting had gone 
along until then without very much enthusiasm, 
and yet the preachers had done their best and there 
had been a good amount of praying and singing 
and some conversions, yet the old veteran seemed 
to be longing for the return of ancient and sancti- 
fying power such as he could remember. Then 
bursting out in strains like these : " Where is the 
power that thrilled in the hearts of our fathers and 
mothers? Have we fallen upon such evil times 
that we must drag along on the cold level of for- 
mality ? O, I trust not. True, the voice of Darius 
Williams rings no more in the forests and in the 
churches, and we hear no more the voice of Benja- 
min Bidlack nor the shouts of the mothers in 
Israel who sleep under the sod, but the God of our 
fathers has not gone to sleep, and he is very near 
us if we can only apprehend him by faith. O 
rouse you, my brethren. Are there not prayerful 
hearts here to-day? Where is Betsy Locke and 
Penelope Baldwin and Mother Lee and Auntie 
Pierce and Hannah Slocum? We can't afford to 
trail the old banner along and march with inverted 
arms and bowed heads and the enemy laughing at 
our dead formality. No, no ! A few more valiant 
charges on the enemy and the victory will be ours; 
then we can lay down our armor and rest while 
others shall take our places, but never let us go to 
sleep in our tents while we can hear the commands 
of the enemy and sinners are tramping on toward 
their doom. We must have the victory on these 
camp grounds or the foe will rejoice over spoils 
that he will win among our friends and children. 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 135 

for an all-conquering faith to take hold upon 
God ! O for prayer, united prayer, such as Jacob 
had when he wrestled all night with the angel ! I 
can now hear the footsteps of him who trod the 
winepress alone for us. Reach, O reach a hand 
to touch his garment, and we shall feel the healing 
power all over this ground." 

These were the words, and a great many more 
like them which would come from his lips and every- 
one who heard them would feel sure that they came 
from the depths of his heart. Indeed, his oratory 
was powerful because his whole soul breathed in it. 
There was an honest man back of it. Such oratory 
has helped to achieve victories, to found churches. 

1 have listened to his masterly sermons on dedica- 
tion days that would sweep everything before them. 
Stations and circuits all over this region of country 
have been built up by him. When he went to 
Scranton it was a weak, helpless mission, and had a 
congregation of a dozen or a score. It grew under 
his fostering care, and people began to come in to 
hear the preaching. A revival swept through the 
town. To-day Scranton is one of the grandest 
churches in the whole country, and last year raised 
three thousand dollars missionary money. George 
Peck had been officially connected with it in some 
way from its very beginning until his death ; then 
his sons and grandsons carried the banner. Dr. 
Peck always had a heart for the missionary work 
of the Church, and during the years of the war he 
got a resolution through the Wyoming District 
Lyceum to make a desperate effort to raise one 
thousand dollars in the district for the missionary 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

cause, and in 1864 the amount of one thousand 
four hundred dollars was reached. Last year 
Scranton itself raised the princely sum of three 
thousand dollars, and the whole district over twelve 

The Wyoming Seminary was first started at his 
suggestion ; he made the first announcement of the 
possibility of it and was connected with it until his 
death, and the proud position that it occupies now 
in the educational world is mainly due to him ; 
this in no way diminishes the honors which have 
been universally accorded to Reuben Nelson, the 
first principal, the masterly orator, the grand in- 
structor, and the unrivaled organizer. Nor does it 
detract from the honor accorded to the officers 
whose work has been so available in making Wyo- 
ming Seminary what it is to-day. George Peck had 
a noble brother-in-law who gave the land on which 
the seminary stands. The name of Thomas Myers 
will live in the hearts of the people here as long as 
the seminary shall live, and the seminary shall live 
as long as there lives an alumnus who went out 
from those classic walls. 

George Peck was the originator of the first course 
of study prescribed by the General Conference for 
traveling preachers, so say men that were " inside." 
He has had to do with all the legislation that has 
been enacted in the Church for more than fifty 
years ; indeed, he was elected to thirteen General 
Conferences in succession from 1824 to 1872, and 
he was present at all those sessions and remained 
until the close of each. He went as delegate to 
five General Conferences after the mock funeral 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 137 

that was held over his demise by Leroy M. Lee, of 
The Richmond Christian Advocate. 

He attended five family gatherings, at each of 
which the five brothers were present in good 
health, and at the last one he preached a power- 
ful sermon on "Their strength is to sit still." That 
'was in the University Methodist Episcopal Church, 
Syracuse. He was then eighty years old. He had 
a family gathering at his own home in Scranton in 
connection with the fiftieth anniversary of his wed- 
ding, and Mary Myers, the bride, was there, and all 
his brothers were living and were all there in good 
health and able to stand upon their feet, as a photo- 
graph will show taken as they stood in a row in the 
pulpit of the Adam's Avenue Methodist Episcopal 
Church. These five men, after they had worn hon- 
ors in the Church and grown old in their work, 
would meet at their family gatherings and borrow 
drums and fifes and resurrect their drum corps 
serenades which made the welkin ring when they 
were boys. The reminiscences which we heard 
during those family visits were exhilarating in the 
midst of everyday life. But I ought to close this 
chapter ; I have no heart to. This recital was not 
to round out the life of George Peck. It shines on 
the pages of recorded history. Who can show a 
better record or a work more enduring or more 
valuable? The commencement the most unprom- 
ising possible, the environments the least encoura- 
ging possible, yet the achievement the greatest pos- 

In the family Bible, published by Clement C. 
Butler, of Philadelphia, I find the names of the 

138 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

great leaders of religious thought. The likenesses 
of many of them appear in said Bible, in connec- 
tion with the movements of the age in which each 
lived. There we see John Bunyan, Cotton Mather, 
Augustine of Canterbury, Archbishop Cranmer, 
William Penn, Martin Luther, Henry Muhlenberg, 
William White, Baron Emanuel Swedenborg, 
John Knox, Thornton Kirkland, George Peck, 
John P. Durbin, Stephen Olin, Matthew Simpson, 
William the Silent, and James Oglethorpe. Now 
I ask, can greater names be found in the history of 
the world ? 

The volume of sermons preached by Dr. Peck 
during the War of the Rebellion is one of which 
every lover of his country may be proud. He stood 
by the flag while it was insulted and shot down. 
He was in close relation and fellowship with Presi- 
dent Lincoln, Parson W. G. Brownlow, of Tennes- 
see, Granville Moody, Daniel S. Dickinson, Wil- 
liam H. Seward, Peter Cartwright, and the war 
governors of these dark times, and they inspired 
each other. 

He was one of the committee appointed by the 
General Conference of 1864, which met in Phila- 
delphia, to convey to President Lincoln the sym- 
pathy of that body, and had for his associates, 
Joseph Cummings, Charles Elliot, Bishop Ames, 
and Granville Moody. They met the President by 
special arrangement in his official chamber, and 
were introduced by William H. Seward. The 
President was the impersonation of a careworn, 
weary man. The address and Lincoln's reply are 
matters of history. Grant was struggling in the wil- 

Rev. George Peck, D.D. 139 

derness with the Southern legions confronting him, 
and this committee saw the hundreds of wounded 
and dying brought in on ambulances, bleeding and 
dying for their country. The President was crushed 
low to the earth to know that so many strong, brave, 
and uncomplaining men must go down to prema- 
ture death. No wonder Lincoln said with em- 
phasis and emotion when these stalwart men stood 
before him, " God bless the Methodist Church. " 

George Peck lived to see the country saved, free 
and united, and prosperity returning. For eleven 
recurring springs he had witnessed the fresh, sweet 
flowers laid upon the graves of those who sur- 
rendered their lives for their fatherland. 

While U. S. Grant was serving out the last year 
of his second term, and he had seen his brother 
Jesse an honored bishop in the Church which he 
had labored so long for and the family had loved 
so well, and after having seen two of his sons 
honored in the Church, he quietly breathed his life 
out and was gathered to his rest on the 20th of 
May, 1876. He was laid in the shadow of the old 
Forty Fort Church, close by the tomb of Benjamin 
Bidlack, and there rests his confiding wife and her 
ancestors, a few rods from the old broken hearth- 
stone where they pledged unchanging love to each 
other fifty-seven years before. 

140 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

Rev* Andrew Peck* 

THIS is another son of Luther Peck and Annis 
Collar Peck. If not the greatest son, the best, 
he was always good. He led his older brother 
George into the right way. He had a New Eng- 
land conscience of the strictest type. Though he 
belonged to the drum corps he never favored use- 
less noise. He was the check on the more noisy 
spirit of his brothers. He was the one of the five 
brothers who was always disinclined to deviltry. 
He would never hide and jump up suddenly to 
frighten children. He never would hurt a person 
nor a beast nor an insect. He never went fishing 
nor hunting on Sunday when he was a boy. He 
never robbed a bird's nest. He never went swim- 
ming on Sunday. He was really the reformer 
among the children. He stood number one in 
deportment. He never helped drive a school- 
master out of school. He would take blows rather 
than give them ; this could not be said of all his 
brothers. He was a peacemaker when a boy. He 
never rushed into useless danger; most boys will. 
The thinner the ice the nicer the skating is for the 
average boy. The deeper the water the better the 
swimming is for daring boys, especially if they can- 
not swim. He went on the idea that every gun is 
loaded, and so he never accidentally shot anybody. 


Rev. Andrew Peck. 


He never studied how to play tricks on brothers or 
sisters or schoolmates. Andrew Peck kept up with 
the boys and kept step in the band, but always 
wanted to be sure where they were going and 
what they were going for. Like Jacob, he was 
the favorite in the home while Esau did the hunt- 
ing. He was named with a Bible name, the first 
boy so named in the family. If the mother wanted 
a willing hand to help she always found Andrew 
ready. He allowed the other brothers to dig the 
woodchucks, and, like Daniel Webster, would plead 
for the animal's life when one was captured. He 
had strength, but it was always used to help the 
weak. In all fights he would rather be counted out 
than counted in. He would go as far into danger 
as any of the boys if the venture was to save a life 
or quench a raging fire. He would have made a 
splendid physician or surgeon. He had a loving, 
sympathizing heart. He himself felt the pain that 
others felt, and it was very fortunate for this poor 
world that he came into it and lived and labored 
in it. 

Andrew Peck was born the first year of this cen- 
tury ; so the whole century, the great nineteenth 
century, has felt his impress along all the years. 
He commenced his work early. He was hardly in 
his teens when he gave his brother George the 
warning that brought him to repentance. That 
was the starting point of the mighty work that has 
been accomplished by these five brothers. Andrew 
could talk and sing and pray on the camp ground 
where Luther Hoyt, his oldest brother, was brought 
to see the danger of his condition and the great 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

remedy. He was born in the State of New York, 
and lived under all the governors of the State, from 
the very first to the very last — from George 
Clinton to David B. Hill. He never was a citizen 
of any other State or country for a day or an hour 
during his whole long life. He was a star preacher, 
but was like the north star rather than a flashing 
meteor or a blazing comet. 

Already the boyhood of Andrew Peck has been 
briefly noticed. He appeared at the camp ground, 
but he was not at the dog hanging at Cooperstown. 
If he had been like other small boys he would have 
been at the hanging, if not at the camp meeting. 
History does not acquaint us with the fact that he 
cried to go, and I doubt whether he did. Luther 
H. and George went. Andrew was eight years old 
when that dog was hung, and was just the age 
when boys are anxious to see everything that is 
going on, even the last dog suspended. So we 
judge Andrew Peck was a rare boy. We have 
seen how he lost his quart of milk to prove a point 
in philosophy, and by that loss gained the victory. 

His ministerial and domestic life must be noticed, 
and thus we find him soon after commencing to 
preach going back home with his brother George, 
and creating a great sensation in the neighborhood 
where they had spent much of their boyhood days. 
Both the drummer boys were going to preach, and 
everybody rushed out. 

He joined the Oneida Conference in 1818. He 
was then eighteen years of age. He was sent to 
Tioga as second preacher ; John Griffin was preacher 
in charge. The circuit was Owego and the region 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


round about. There was an increase in the mem- 
bership of nearly one hundred. At the end of the 
year he was sent to Ontario, way northwest beyond 
Seneca Lake, what would now be Canandaigua, to 
preach under the charge of William Snow. The 
third year he was in charge, with Robert Parker 
junior preacher. Then the next year he undertook 
Plattsburg alone, being only a deacon. This was 
not a very long move, but it was a great undertak- 
ing, and it showed that the authorities were not 
afraid to trust the young man anywhere. The 
next year he was sent to the northeast, and the 
next to Boston, with J. Copeland to assist him in 
building up a new charge. This was in the extreme 
western part of the State, in Erie County. Gleason 
Fillmore was his presiding elder, a brother of Mil- 
lard Fillmore, afterward President of the United 
States by the death of Zachary Taylor. During his 
stay in Boston he was married to Polly Hudson, who 
was a devoted wife and a grand help to him in his 
arduous undertakings. His next move was to the 
important station, Paris, or Sauquoit, where the 
Conference had been held, and where his brother 
George had been stationed. There his son Wesley 
was born, who is a member of the California Con- 
ference, and is a faithful, eloquent man of God. I 
saw him when in his young ministry in the same 
Conference to which his father belonged all his 
life. He was cheerful and zealous. He joined the 
itinerancy to do hard work, whether it brought 
wealth or honors or neither. 

The next year, 1823, Andrew Peck took charge 
of Chenango District as presiding elder. This 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

brought him into counsel with the mighty men of 
that country and of those years, such as John 
Dempster, George Garey, Josiah Keyes, Squire 
Chase, Horace Agard, Elias Bowen. His district 
covered the ground of his old home, where he was 
born, Middlefield, Cooperstown, and the old home 
in Brookfield, and the classic Hamilton, Norwich, 
and Oxford. The truth was he was the most pop- 
ular where he was the best known, yet the most 
meek and modest man that ever assumed the office 
of presiding elder. During this first year his wife 
died, and though the blow was a crushing one to 
him, he held up and went on with his work, and 
during his four years in the eldership he prayed and 
worked and preached eloquently and earnestly. 
His next station was East Hamilton, close to his old 
home, from which he started out at eighteen years 
of age. Then the next year he goes to Madison, 
and has W. W. White as junior preacher; next he 
has Madison alone. Then Smyrna and Plymouth 
were his fields of labor, with Lewis H. Stanley, the 
same who watched over my father so faithfully 
when he was so seriously hurt. From Smyrna he 
was sent to New Berlin, and had E. D. Higgins for 
his junior preacher. The two remained on that 
charge two years, which was the full term that any 
preacher could then remain. Then he was returned 
to Plymouth, and remained two years there. Ply- 
mouth had been made a charge by itself. His 
next move was to Chenango, with Rodney S. Rose 
for his junior. He had already seen his brother 
George and John Dempster elected to General 
Conference ; both were his chums on that wet camp 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


ground when the six slept in the same straw bed. 
He had attended the Oxford and the Wilkesbarre 
Conferences whereat the Wyoming Seminary had 
been founded. He remained at Chenango two 
years, with B. Ferris and William Silsbee for col- 
leagues. His next move was to Woodstock, near 
Cazenovia. Lyman A. Eddy was his presiding 
elder. Already he had given twenty-four years to 
the effective work of the ministry, and he felt his 
powers broken, and he was glad to step aside and 
give place to the young men who were ready to 
join the ranks and carry the banner forward. He 
had seen the one Conference which he joined 
twenty-five years before grow to three Conferences, 
with more than three times as many members as 
the one had then. He had seen, during that quar- 
ter of a century, the Church all over the United 
States grow from eleven Conferences to thirty-three 
Conferences, and the increase of membership had 
mounted up so that instead of two hundred and 
twenty-one thousand it amounted to more than 
one million one hundred thousand, and he had 
done his full share of the work. He had kept step 
with the drumbeat and kept up with the proces- 
sion. He had worked on small salaries without a 
murmur. He had seen his younger brother hon- 
ored with a seat in the General Conference. So 
while Mother Peck's " boys " were receiving all the 
honors that heart could wish, he retired from the 
more active duties of the ministry, and gathering 
his family into as comfortable a home as possible, 
undertook the distribution of Bibles. His son 

Wesley entered the Conference with a bright future 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

before him, and though smitten with disease when 
he retired from the itinerancy, his heart was in the 
work just as much as it ever was. Andrew Peck 
had his four brothers and all the relatives that he 
could get together at his neat little home in Cort- 
land for family reunions no less than twice and, I 
think, three times. The place seemed to be a para- 
dise. The garden, lawn, trees, and vines were re- 
ceiving the best attention, and to have his four 
brothers, all in health, with him, to sit at his table, 
to kneel in prayer together, and then, with conven- 
tionalities laid aside, to sit for a long evening and 
talk over other days. The old home in Middle- 
field, the old schoolmaster and his dunce block — 
what scenes of laughter we had ! Children and 
grandchildren were present. There I learned how 
little Jesse nearly choked to death trying to eat 
and cry at the same time. There I first learned 
that little Jesse had a tooth pulled. When Dr. 
George took from his pocket a letter which he had 
received from little Jesse and showed it to us with 
the great flourishes, the loud writing, the gran- 
diloquent wording, rhetorical and rounded periods, 
and then the immense signature, we all laughed 
till we cried. Uncle Jesse sat there and enjoyed it 
all quietly, remarking that he was small then and 
had not got his growth. At this gathering at 
Uncle Andrew's in Cortland I learned that those 
boys composed a band of music in their young days 
in old Middlefield. O how refreshing it is to un- 
bend occasionally and visit as members of the same 
family!* That place at Uncle Andrew's was a well- 
guarded home. Even the birds out in the garden 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


and on the sidewalk seemed to feel safe, and one 
could almost pick them up in the hand. The 
father had a longer time of home life than any of 
the brothers, except my father, and he appreciated 
it more than ever after he had had a quarter of a 
century of moving from place to place. There 
under his roof I first met his son, Elbert Andrew, 
who has become a prominent member of the Cen- 
tral New York Conference ; so he has a representa- 
tive in the itinerancy besides Wesley in California. 
While I was at that family gathering I sat up late 
at night and rose early in the morning. It was in 
the sweet spring days, and the robins would sing 
at the first sign of daylight. I wanted to hear 
every anecdote that was told at that family gath- 
ering. Yet I was sent out to hold a Quarterly 
Meeting on Sunday, and felt in a hurry to get 
back. I got to the church a little early, and while 
standing out on, the platform talking with the pas- 
tor a man handed him a two-dollar bill, remarking, 
half apologetically, that we are told to help an ox 
or an ass out of the ditch on the Sabbath day, and 
with that spirit the two dollars was given to the 
pastor, and he took it, and no doubt was glad to 
get the help. We went into the church and com- 
menced the love feast, had singing and prayer, and 
while the bread and water were being passed 
around one oldish brother, as he took the water to 
drink, took it as drinking health and spoke out, 
" Here is health to Abraham Lincoln/' This was 
in the summer of 1864, when party spirit was run- 
ning high, and Lincoln was especially popular in 
that part of the State. That speech in love feast 

148 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

startled me, yet I overlooked it ; so did the pastor. 
Probably we both felt much as the old brother felt. 
It was an odd time and place to bring in politics. 
At the close of the Quarterly Meeting I hastened 
back to Uncle Andrew's to the family reunion so as 
not to lose any of the reminiscences. Uncle An- 
drew seemed anxious to have a good spread for us 
at every meal, remarking that it was between " hay 
and grass," so that he could not get very much 
that was good to eat. Yet everything was splen- 
did, and to meet five aged ministers, and they 
brothers, is a very rare occurrence and a privilege 
of a lifetime ; a feast, indeed, whether it was be- 
tween hay and grass or not. The day that Uncle 
William was expected some of us went to the 
train as it came in from the North to see if he came. 
Uncle Jesse was anxious and excited. The four 
brothers were all there, and it only lacked William 
to complete the circle. Rushing to the platform 
and looking at the cars that were just pulling into 
the depot, Uncle Jesse made a misstep and fell 
terribly and heavily. I rushed to him, thinking he 
must be badly hurt, but he was on his feet in a mo- 
ment, and was the first to grasp the hand of his 
brother William. Uncle William's first greeting 
was one expressing wonder as to how his brother's 
vest had become so soiled, but we were all glad 
that he was not seriously crippled. Then came 
the stories of " the old house at home " and the 
old shop and the old barn, the sugar grove and the 
charcoal pit, and the sod cabin where they slept 
nights, with a blazing fire in front for a guard in 
place of a door, boiling down the syrup and mak- 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


ing maple candy, sweeter and finer than any that 
can be bought, the boyish sports and trials of 
strength and speed and efforts to show which could 
climb the highest and not have his head swim. It 
was admitted on all hands that Luther could lift 
the heaviest weight, and had the strongest grip in 
his fingers. They called up an old instance of his 
lifting an anvil by grasping it by the peaked end. 
He could do it and no one of the others could, but 
he did it once too often, and let it fall upon his 
toes ; then there was a scene which had more 
dancing on one foot and groaning than hilarity. 
The anvil was not there at the family visit, so they 
could not try it over again. At one of these gath- 
erings I remember when we were all seated at a 
long table, five brothers and their wives and a great 
many nephews and nieces. Uncle Jesse was at the 
head of the table trying to dissect the fowl; he 
seemed to have difficulty in his work, and made a 
remark that was somewhat derogatory to the de- 
ceased, and in a moment he was reprimanded, for 
it had always been a motto in the family " never to 
speak evil of the dead." He was a bishop then, 
but instead of being offended he laid down his 
carving knife and fork and gave way to a hearty 
laugh, and our dinner was postponed that much. 

At one of the gatherings we had an old-fashioned 
mush-and-milk dinner. The meeting was in the 
late autumn. The corn had been planted in the 
spring in the garden by the brother himself. 
When the corn became ripe he gathered it, and 
gave it a thorough drying by the stove ; then it 
was shelled, taken to the mill and ground, and 

150 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

when the day came for the feast, a large kettle was 
put over, and when the water boiled the mush was 
made — new corn mush. Then a great abundance 
of milk was set on the table in a large pan with a 
dipper, and the hot mush put on in another pan ; 
then a bowl and spoon was set for each guest. We 
all gathered around, and after grace was said 
each hastened, childlike, to be first to get a spoon 
into the mush, and the mush into his bowl, and 
the luxurious food into his mouth. There was Dr. 
Crane, with specs on, a boy again, and my aged 
father, with the hilarity of youth ; and Dr. George 
laid by his gravity and used his spoon as handy as 
he could when he was a boy of ten. That dinner, 
as I look back to it now, seems to me the best 
dinner I ever enjoyed. There was my father, 
just recovering from an attack of sickness, 
with a silver spoon in his mouth, eating mush and 
milk. There sat the real Gertrude of Wyoming, 
eating like the rest. There sat a bishop, enjoying 
the occasion hugely. The author of the True Wom- 
an had his true woman by his side, and both 
were enjoying themselves full as much as any. 
Near by sat J. Townley Crane, whose mother-in- 
law was the Gertrude of the company. He wore 
golden-bowed specs, and had a silver spoon in his 
mouth — certainly he was not born so. He was a 
Doctor of Divinity and an author. He had issued 
a volume from the press, proving the morality of 
not dancing. His wife could sing when she was a 
child, as I have already shown. At the far end of 
the table sat the acknowledged head of the family, 
George Peck, D.D., the same whose nasal organ in 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


early life was adorned with a clothespin, while he 
was elevated upon a platform. This had been done 
by his instructor in order to develop in his character 
some grains of moral perception. It, however, had 
an effect entirely the reverse of what was intended, 
and so the treatment was changed and the in- 
structor was changed. There with dignity he sat 
at the head of the table, eating mush and milk in 
the primitive way. The author of the romance of 
Wyoming Valley, and he and his wife, and her 
parents and grandparents chief actors in the 
drama. The author of Manly Character, the Rule 
of Faith, and Christian Perfection. He had cer- 
tainly improved since his savage old teacher had 
tried his various modes of moral culture in the old 
schoolhouse with the parsonage in the attic. His 
brother Andrew's intimation that there was a place 
of future torment had more effect and better effect 
than the torment that was present. There was the 
man, nearly fourscore years old, with good eyes, 
good hearing, and a good voice, and as good a heart 
as ever beat in a human breast — young again. There 
sat Andrew his early instructor, with the same sober 
look he always wore, yet somewhat brightened up 
by the reunion of the brothers. He was eating 
mush and milk, and thinking of the milk he had 
once lost in a philosophic discussion. Andrew 
looked at his brother George, and thought with 
much satisfaction certainly, " My early warning has 
resulted in making a great man out of a bad boy." 

Tell me, ye men that write history and biogra- 
phy, have you ever found a story equal to this? I 
challenge the world to equal this one. Did ever 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

in the chronicles of time occur just such a scene as 
this? Five brothers, sons of the same father, each 
with his wife, all the five distinguished ministers 
of the same Church, two of them authors, and 
children and grandchildren sitting with them 
around a table eating mush and milk, and the 
meal made from the corn that one of the five 
raised himself. The youngest one a bishop weigh- 
ing three hundred pounds. I will give one hun- 
dred dollars for just such a story in the whole 
history of the world. And let it be remembered 
that the head of this family had sat at the private 
table of Andrew Jackson, and talked with him con- 
fidentially concerning early wars and revolutions. 
He had stood before kings and lords. He was the 
same one who had been buried twenty-six years 
before by the Rev. Leroy M. Lee, of The Richmond 
Christian Advocate, 

" Here lies a Peck, 
A peck of dust." 

Should it not be added, " Here lies a Lee?" The 
man was not dead whose epitaph Lee wrote, as 
this family gathering plainly demonstrated. 

Andrew Peck lived to be the oldest one of the 
five brothers in the ministry. He joined the Con- 
ference when he was only eighteen, and lived until 
he was eighty-seven ; so he was a minister sixty- 
nine years. This has not been surpassed in his 
Conference more than once or twice. George Har- 
mon was a minister seventy years, and Benjamin 
G. Paddock is credited with a seventy-two-year min- 
isterial service, and lived until he was only eighty- 
three ; so he joined the Conference at eleven years 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


of age. This may be a mistake of ten years. If 
so, Andrew Peck is second in age in the ministry, 
and only one year behind George Harmon, who 
stands first. While Uncle Andrew was a member 
of the Conference he helped to send out several 
men who have gone into the bishop's office. His 
own brother, Jesse, W. X. Ninde, E. G. Andrews, 
and John P. Newman. Thomas Bowman was 
born in the bounds of the old Genesee Conference. 
Enoch George, Calvin Kingsley, and Charles H. 
Fowler bore relation to old Genesee. 

Uncle Andrew was a fine preacher, and no apol- 
ogy need be offered for him as to early advantages 
or anything else. He was a master workman in 
the pulpit. He came to our house in the year 
1862, and visited us and remained over Sunday; 
though he was old and feeble I requested him to 
preach in my pulpit, and it was a luxury to listen 
to him ; and though I had the pleasure of hearing 
some splendid sermons while I was in Brooklyn 
and Pennsylvania, yet the sermon of this aged 
man is the only one of all that I can remember to 
this day, and I made no more record of it than I 
did of the others, nor did I try any harder to re- 
member it. His sermon was on the ten lepers who 
were cleansed, and only one, and he a stranger, re- 
turned to give glory to God ; and the Saviour, seem- 
ing to be sad over the base ingratitude displayed, 
asked, "Where are the nine? Were there not ten 
cleansed ?" It was a clear and masterly sermon 
on ingratitude. " How sharper than a serpent's 
tooth it is to have a thankless child/' 

I met him several times at his happy, peaceful 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

home, and always felt refreshed to be with him. 
He always took an interest in public and secular 
matters, as well as Church matters. He was not a 
destructive radical, yet a radical he certainly was. 
Some went a little too slow for him, still he man- 
aged to tolerate them. He lived right in the midst of 
the most fiery radicals. He w T as near McGrawville, 
that place which the Marylanders considered the 
very worst place on top of the earth. About the 
time I was living in Maryland a slave hunter was 
interfered with in his efforts to restore a slave to 
the sweet condition which he enjoyed in the sunny 
South, but the ex-servant had not seen the sweet- 
ness of his condition and was on his way to Canada ; 
and by the reports that came down South Mc- 
Grawville was one of the depots of the underground 
railroad, and even white men were aiding in get- 
ting the slaves away from their masters and homes. 
Andrew Peck was a very conservative man in his 
mature years, but a few efforts of slaveholders to 
vindicate the beauties of the Fugitive Slave law were 
enough to drive a lump of dead earth into being a 
radical. A few such letters as Rev. John S. Gor- 
such of Maryland wrote to The Christian Advocate, 
declaring to the three thousand New England 
clergymen who sent a protest against the disturb- 
ance of the Missouri Compromise line, that it was 
none of their business, w r ould be enough to make a 
red-hot radical out of an iceberg. One such letter 
answered to drive all the conservatism out of 
Andrew Peck, and indeed all the five brothers and 
all the grandsons and nephews, If it was none of 
our business if they brought their peculiar institu- 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


tion across the line between the North and the 
South, then we proposed to see who was running 
this North, we or they, and there was where the 
trouble commenced. Andrew Peck was thence- 
forward on the side of his native State, and if that 
was radicalism they could make the most of it. 
The brother of his old presiding elder, Rev. Gleason 
Fillmore, was President, and had signed the Fugitive 
Slave law, with other measures that were intended 
as a pacification of the country; and this act of 
Millard Fillmore was all that the aged minister 
could stand ; but when the effort was made to batter 
down the Chinese wall between freedom and slavery 
then the old guard threw up their commissions and 
ranged themselves as radicals. 

I met him about the year 1870. It was on the 
camp ground in Freeville, and the meeting was a 
good one. It was a new ground, and seemed to be 
ill adapted for camp meeting, especially in damp 
weather, and the weather was quite wet. He was 
there, though threescore years and ten. He had 
his family and his tent to cover them, and provision 
to feed ministers and visitors and strangers. I was 
invited in and was made welcome, and enjoyed a 
little rest and felt at home. He was not there to 
find fault with the weather or that ground or the 
management or the preaching. He was young with 
the youngest and encouraged the officers all that 
was possible. One brother in trying to preach had 
trouble with his manuscript ; the rain fell upon it, 
and so he had to get along without notes. Uncle 
Andrew was then heart and soul in the temperance 
work and had already joined himself to a new organ- 

156 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

ization called the Antidramshop Party. There is 
abundant proof on hand to convince anyone that 
he was a loyal, liberal, kind-hearted Christian citi- 
zen until the close of his long life. For over forty 
years he was a member of that official board of 
Cortlandville Station, and while it was a compara- 
tively weak charge when he settled down to live 
there it has grown to be one of the finest stations in 
the whole Conference. In 1847 there was a mem- 
bership of one hundred and fifty; now the member- 
ship numbers five hundred and thirty-three, and did 
in 1885. The church in those earlier days was old 
and poor and had no parsonage ; now there is a 
splendid church worth twenty-three thousand dol- 
lars, and a four-thousand-dollar parsonage. He has 
been closely identified with all the work of that so- 
ciety since it became a station by itself. Years ago 
when the Conference was held there the court- 
house had to be used for their larger gatherings. 
One Conference met there when Jesse T. Peck 
was in his prime, and while preaching in the court- 
house there came up an awful thunderstorm ; the 
louder the cannonade from the clouds the louder 
the speaker had to speak, and he was bound to be 
heard if possible. Dr. Durbin went to his board- 
ing place before church was out. Meeting the loud- 
voiced orator the next morning he spoke in his pecul- 
iar feminine voice, as follows : " Doctor, which had 
the best of it last night, you or the thunder? When 
I left I thought it was a doubtful contest. " The 
people of Cortland always welcomed the members 
of the family to their pulpit and to the home cir- 
cles, and on the occasion of one family gathering 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


one of the members, I think his name was French, 
took the whole crowd of relatives to his own 
princely residence, so that all could have room. 
When one of them preached in the church a great 
crowd greeted him. This I consider a fine eulogy 
on my aged uncle, Andrew Peck. He had so con- 
ducted himself after his superannuation as to win 
the respect and love of those with whom he dwelt. 
Sometimes a superannuate feels that he has been 
crowded out of the ranks by younger men. This 
was not the case with. Uncle Andrew. I once 
heard an aged preacher of the Baltimore Conference 
say that the young college students were crowding 
into the Conference so fast that there was no room 
for old men who had borne the burdens of the 
earlier times, and that very year a young man 
from my class in college was sent on the very 
charge where that old brother had found his super- 
annuation. I never heard any such thing from 
Uncle Andrew's lips, and the records of the Confer- 
ence will show that the Conference collection for 
worn-out preachers never weakened on account 
of the unpopularity of the claimant who lived 
in their midst. It would be no wonder if he had 
become childish in his old age ; if he did I have 
never heard of it. A man past eighty can be ex- 
pected to be notional, but that family of Pecks never 
had notions when they were young or old, and it 
becomes the men of later generations to guard well 
against becoming notional and cynical in their old 
age. The older Pecks never belonged to that 
school of philosophy. They could always find men 
without a lantern. 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

As we look over the list of the pastors at Cort- 
land along through the years while Uncle Andrew 
was retired we are convinced that he sustained 
them and they stood by him. The old man who 
came upon the charge found in him a helper no 
less than the young and ambitious man. There 
was George Bridge, who welcomed the first family 
visit in Cortland. On that occasion I drove into 
the village alone ; it was about noon. I put my 
horse at a stable and walked out upon the street 
and asked a little girl if she knew where the minis- 
ter lived. " Who, Brother Bridge?" she asked. 
" Yes," I said. She said, " I will show you," and I 
felt at home immediately. Before we had gone 
a dozen rods we came to a nice residence; the 
door being open, I saw familiar faces, and the smile 
of Uncle George greeted me. My little guide left 
me, and I went in and found the five brothers and all 
the rest, and I crowded in among the boys as John 
Dempster did at the camp meeting. Brother 
Bridge was happy and made us all happy. After 
him W. N. Pearne, one of the older men ; then 
came Daniel Cobb, a tremendous preacher and a 
good singer ; he was splendid in revival work. I 
first saw him at a camp meeting near Cortland. 
He labored in the meeting altar like a hero. He 
was a leader in Minnesota and California. L. D. 
Davis followed him and A. S. Graves came next. 
Brother Graves was a grand success, and was dele- 
gate to General Conference ; I have no doubt he 
was helped by the vote of Andrew Peck. Then 
came George Bridge, already mentioned, then E. C 
Brown, and after him the brave and lamented A. 

Rev. Andrew Peck. 


J. Grover, who went to the war and gave up his 
promising life for his country. A sad bereavement 
for the aged superannuated minister. Then came 
Ephraim Hoag. He had been pastor of my 
father's family on the Brackle and had a glorious 
revival there. One of my brothers was then con- 
verted. Then came to Cortland an older man, 
Ephenetus Owen. He remained two years. He 
was a rousing preacher and sometimes laughable. 
Dr. Z. Paddock once told me of a time when 
Brother Owen jostled his gravity, and it was about 
the only instance of the kind that had ever happened 
to him while listening to a sermon. Brother Owen 
was explaining how much help he could get by 
having implicit confidence in the Lord, and inti- 
mated that some people would have their confidence 
easily shaken by some trivial circumstances, like 
the lady whose horse ran away and inverted her 
vehicle and caused a general wreck. But she sur- 
vived, and in describing the disaster afterward to 
her pastor she remarked that she had, through it 
all, the utmost confidence in God until the " brit- 
chen broke/' Brother Owen was pastor when 
another family visit occurred in Cortland, and my 
episode, when I attended the Quarterly Meeting 
out of town, occurred under his management. 
After Brother Owen came E. C. Curtis, and 
remained three years ; he did not scruple to assail 
great abominations whenever found, even if they 
tried to hide behind the Constitution of the United 
States. He had in his young days been pastor at 
Cincinnatus and Brackle, and was soon promoted 
to the Cortland Station. The next man who ap- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

peared in the Cortland pulpit was J. T. Crippen. 
He was a master in eloquence. Uncle Andrew 
once told me he was the most natural orator that 
he ever heard preach. He afterward went to Iowa 
and was appointed to Waterloo. At a great fare- 
well mass meeting in his old Conference he made 
a tremendous speech, saying he was going to Water- 
loo, and they would have the great battle over 
again. Bishop Peck, the youngest brother, presided 
in a Conference in Cortland, and W. H. Annoble 
was placed there as pastor ; then after two years he 
was promoted, and C. C. Wilbur took the place. 

Through all these changes and war alarms and 
withdrawals from the Church Uncle Andrew was 
one who remained steady. Brother Owen thought 
we were a little too slow and gave his hand to the 
Free Methodists; Elias Bowen and his eloquent 
son-in-law, D. W. Thurston, half inclined that way, 
but Andrew Peck could not leave the old commun- 
ion even though an old associate presiding elder 
was inclined to step out. 

I am glad to think of him there in the beautiful 
village of Cortland with hosts of friends around 
him, with the strong society which he had helped 
to build up, with the singing birds courting his 
protection and friendship, and never being disap- 
pointed. There he rested and prayed and sung, a 
sweet-spirited veteran of the army of the living God. 

He went to his last long rest in the springtime, 
May 6, 1887, and his Master laid him gently upon 
his soft and downy pillow to sleep until the reveille 
shall summon the "men in uniform " to answer to 
roll call on the great coronation day. 


Rev. William Peck. 



Rev* William Peck* 

HIS is the bad boy of the five, yet he was one 

1 of them. He was not seriously bad, yet rather 
more inclined to martial music than to church 
music. He would rather go to a serenade of the 
drum corps than to a prayer meeting. Being only 
nine years of age he could plead that he was too 
young to be a Christian when the others were con- 
verted at the camp meeting, yet his mother had 
included him in her prayer when she gave them 
all to the Lord. He was named after a royal fam- 
ily. William is a great name in English history. 
He could not be called William the Conqueror, for 
we have not even heard of any fights that he ever 
had. There was a William the Silent, but he could 
hardly be said to be him, seeing he was an active 
member of the band. He might possibly be called 
William the Lionhearted, yet he never tore any- 
body in pieces. He had the talents and capabilities 
of a king, a great king, if he had been born in that 
state of life. However, he was born and grew up a 
sovereign among a great many sovereigns, and was 
reared in a family where there was always a Chris- 
tian altar. He went West and became somewhat 
wayward, and though many had doubts of his ulti- 
mate reformation his mother never weakened in 
her faith that William would be converted and 


162 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

some day be a preacher. The years went on, 
many changes occurred, his brothers took promi- 
nent positions in the Church, and even his youngest 
brother buckled on the harness and entered the min- 
istry. His mother lived to see him converted from 
his wayward course, and to hear him preach, mar- 
ried and settled in life, and a member of the Meth- 
odist Church; and in less than two years after she 
breathed her last he gave himself to the work of 
the traveling ministry, joining Conference in the 
class with Erastus Wentworth, who was present 
when his mother went to her last sleep — the same 
Wentworth who wrote a short obituary of the 
sainted lady, and drew with pencil the likeness 
which appears in this volume. The other men in 
that class of the Black River Conference were Al- 
vin Robbins, Morenus Thrasher, Rufus E. King, 
Joseph H. Lamb, John W. Cooper, Adam C. Green, 
and William Hawkins. N. R. Peck was only two 
years ahead of him. His first circuit was DeKalb, 
and he had no colleague. He had been married 
thirteen years and was a full-grown man. They 
had no children, and thus escaped the troubles and 
anxieties such as parents have over the follies of 
small boys or small girls and even larger boys and 
girls. Yet his brothers had enough of these to 
make up for his lack. There is one instance of the 
follies of boys which makes one shudder to look 
back to. It happened on the Brackle on the old 
farm of Luther H. Peck. There was an ox yoke 
on the premises, made by the older boys for young 
oxen to wear, or calves as they were called. It 
was stout and firm. One day Elias Bowen and 

Rev. William Peck. 


Andrew Emory were playing together and came 
across that yoke and proposed to try it on. They 
had one calf handy, but not a pair, so they managed 
to adjust the yoke to the youthful ox's neck, put in 
the bow, and pinned it fast. Then Elias Bowen 
tried the other bow to Andrew's neck and it fitted 
very well ; then he succeeded in getting the bow 
into its proper place in the yoke, put in the hick- 
ory pin and made everything secure, and let the pair 
loose. Very soon the whole three were very much 
frightened. The calf was not used to the yoke and 
was not used to such a mate, and it ran off furiously ; 
Andrew Emory, the nigh ox, did the best he could 
to keep his neck from being broken by the hard 
wood collar, so, sometimes on his knees, and as 
much as he could on his feet, he kept up with 
his mate. Very fortunately the frightened beast 
tired out and stopped ; he remained quiet until 
Elias Bowen, pale with fear, detached the fright- 
ened animal and got the endangered youth free 
again. It is needless to say that experiment was 
never repeated by the boys. And we all cry out 
in dismay, What can possibly be the matter with 
boys ? Girls do not seem to be that way. When I 
was quite young my oldest brother ventured to run 
through a fire made for the heating of wagon tire 
out of doors. It was mostly out and the embers 
smoldering. I, of course, had to go through the 
same place, but as soon as I felt the hot coals on 
my bare feet I sat down and waited to be rescued 
from the burning. The scar is on my foot now 
which was made by that so-called disaster. My 
mother once rescued me from a tree into which 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

I had climbed ; losing my hold on the limbs I 
had been caught on a jagged knot and held by 
my garments with my head down. I cried for help 
and got it, and got some that I had not asked for, 
and then I cried. Indeed the anxiety of fathers 
and mothers has but little vacation when boys are 
growing up and running loose, and boys cannot be 
easy unless they are running loose, and the greater 
the danger the more greedy they seem to be to run 
into it. George Wesley, the first son, once man- 
aged to get up on the top of the old ox frame, 
which had been built to hold oxen while being shod. 
The sun was shining, and his body made a shadow 
on the ground. Mary Ann came along and set her 
feet on his shadow and called out, " George, I am 
stepping on your head." Then he moved so as to 
defeat her little scheme; then she jumped for his 
head again, then he ran and she ran, and soon he 
made a misstep and his really head came in con- 
tact with the ground ; a stone made a gash, and 
a scar was the result which he carried to his grave. 
Father left the shop and carried the boy tenderly 
into the house, and when mother asked him what 
he was up on the ox frame for, of course he could 
not think up any errand for which he had been 
moved to climb upon the old frame. Whoever 
heard of a boy giving a valid reason for such dis- 
asters as so often happen under their brilliant man- 
agement ? Elias Bowen once came near losing his 
life by the swinging of a heavy ox yoke fastened 
to the neck of a wild steer ; before the other steer 
was yoked this one whirled, and the end of the yoke 
struck Elias in the temple, and he went to the 

Rev. William Peck. 


ground apparently lifeless and as limp as a rag. 
Father took him in his arms, carried him to the 
house, and carefully laid him on his mother's bed. 
He was then a child of three. He was told to 
stand back, but a boy always wants to be as close 
as possible when any rumpus occurs. He had his 
little whip in his hand, and struck at the animal 
as it swung furiously around. His head was not 
seriously hurt, and in a few days he was out with 
a handkerchief around his head working up other 
enterprises. Indeed father and mother wore them- 
selves out watching over and looking after the five 
boys they reared to manhood. The girls seemed 
to be more help than trouble. Our mother seemed 
to fear all the time that we would swallow pins, or 
put beans up our noses, or eat something in the 
woods that was poison. I remember I once wanted 
to place the old cat in a prison. I noticed a three- 
cornered deep pen caused by the bedroom door 
opening against a cross partition, and I could think 
of no way to get her in there except to throw her 
over the top of the door, so I bent down and gave 
a tremendous throw, and the poor animal, seeming 
to take in the situation, concluded hastily to take 
me along with her in her journey over into prison, 
and the first I knew I had three long scratches from 
my foot to my body. The poor cat had caught at 
the lower end of my pants and had not been care- 
ful enough in trying to avoid the skin of my leg. 
Years afterward I came to learn that a more suc- 
cessful plan to put a cat into such a pen would be 
to move the door a little and quietly shut the 
prisoner in. She would probably climb out over 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

the top of the door when she chose to. I looked 
in vain for sympathy, even from my mother. 
The cat had actually drawn blood on my innocent 
limb, yet mother did not seem to fear I would 
bleed to death. 

I have often thought of Uncle William and Aunt 
Charlotte going on with their reformatory work 
with never an anxious inquiry, " Where is my boy 
to-night ? ' ' Still it is easy to prove in these days that 
even bad boys are a help, especially if they grow 
out of the imagination of some fertile brain. 
George W. Peck, of Wisconsin, would never have 
been governor of the commonwealth if it had not 
been for the fictitious badness of his fictitious male 
offspring. William Peck w T as never governor because 
he never had a bad boy ; possibly he would not 
have been if he really had a boy that was bad. 
Many men have failed to reach that responsible 
position who had several bad children of both sexes. 
My Uncle William w r as never confronted with the 
oft-repeated saying that minister's children were 
the worst children in town. He was, however, 
deprived of the rich luxury of giving Christmas 
presents, filling a half dozen little stockings and 
hearing the rumpus on Christmas morning. The 
blowing horns, the beating drums, the rattling 
chariots and horses and tin cars, the filling of 
Noah's ark, the noise of the workmen building 
houses and barns, the shrieks of dolls that are 
made to cry, the rattle boxes and the tin whis- 
tles and pop guns. We sometimes hanker after 
such days and scenes to return, and long to see a 
pair of muddy boots lying in front of the stove, or 

Rev. William Peck. 


a scarf strung along the whole length of the table, 
or a rumpled hat in the parlor in the best rocking 
chair. Our tired hearts would make no complaint 
if we could see again the dear boy who has gone 
and hear the rattle of his drum. But no more we 
hear the clatter of his little boots on the steps and 
we feel lonesome. Uncle William had no children to 
hinder his travels or his usefulness. He could and 
did attach himself to the children of his congrega- 
tion. There would be no pencil marks on the nice 
painted doors and frescoed walls of the parsonage, 
and the brethren and sisters would feel happy 
when a man and his wife would come to the new 
charge all alone. When it is otherwise they feel 
otherwise. One lady whom I well knew, when the 
new pastor came to the charge where she had her 
dwelling place, declared that he had chartered an 
emigrant train to bring his family. In such cases 
there are many regrets, still there are relieving fea- 
tures in a large family of children. Though Uncle 
William never was compelled to charter a train, he 
never had a home Christmas tree such as some of 
us have seen and so much enjoyed. He never had 
a son or daughter go upon the platform and recite 
a poem or a piece of prose on Children's Day. 
Indeed, how could we have Children's Day without 
children? All we can do is to adapt ourselves 
as best we can to the situation, whatever the situa- 
tion is in any given case. A minister and his wife, 
like Uncle William and his wife, can keep their 
house neat and receive fashionable calls and return 
them; yet the music of childhood rhymes, like 
" Little boy blue blowing his horn," can never 

168 Luther Peck and His Five Sons. 

greet them from the garret or chambers. So there 
are drawbacks as well as advantages in a childless 
itinerancy. William Peck had for his first presid- 
ing elder Lewis Whitcomb. His brother Jesse 
was not far off, and Reuben Reynolds was close by; 
he had been a teacher of all the five brothers. He 
remained at DeKalb one year, and then moved 
to Hammond as second preacher with Lindley D. 
Gibbs in charge the second year, Nathaniel Salis- 
bury being presiding elder. Next he moved to 
Colosse under the eldership of Burroughs Holmes. 
That charge he undertook alone. After one year 
he was placed in charge of North Manlius and had 
R. N. Barber as his helper. He was appointed the 
second year at North Manlius with the same pre- 
siding elder and another man to help him. There 
were three other Pecks in the Conference besides 
himself. The next move was to Victory, and there 
he had a helper in the person of Amos Nickerson. 
His work was in the region of Oneida Lake. He 
remained at Victory two years, the second year as 
helper to Anson Tuller. John Dempster was a 
member in the Conference ; this was almost like 
having a brother in it. Next he was sent to Rose 
and had B. Holmes as his presiding elder and good 
Reuben Reynolds close by. At Rose he remained 
his full term. C. L. Dunning and Hiram Mattison 
appear on the scenes. I heard Hiram Mattison at 
the session of our Conference in Newark Valley, in 
the old Presbyterian church, on the " Resurrection 
of the Body." One thing I remember which he 
said in illustration : " As the migratory bird, whose 
summer nest is under the eaves of the farmer's 

Rev. William Peck. 


barn when the chill winds of autumn begin to 
whistle around the rustic home, will pause awhile 
on the edge of its family home and chirp its sweet- 
est songs just before its flight to those summer 
regions where frosts come not. So the weary pil- 
grim of earth will say his sweetest words and sing 
his sweetest songs just before leaving his clay tene- 
ment to go to that sunnier strand beyond the swell- 
ings of Jordan." I heard him again at the Damascus 
camp meeting, during the centenary year of Amer- 
ican Methodism, preach a great sermon Sunday 
afternoon on the " Judgment. " There he spent a 
few hours in the rear part of the preacher's stand, 
sitting on some straw on the floor, busy with his 
notes; when the hour came for the sermon he 
poured forth such a continued strain of Gospel 
eloquence as that vast crowd had never heard. 
The day was pleasant and the air was still, and for 
more than sixty minutes the man of God opened 
to our view the sences of the last day, when Nero 
and Caligula and Judas Iscariot and the bloody 
Mary would stand before the searching eye of the 
Nazarene, and his martyred saints confidingly rest- 
ing by his side, and Michael and Gabriel already 
taking down their harps to lead the heavenly choirs 
in the grand coronation song. The lamented J. V. 
Watson, nearly forty years ago, while sitting in a 
General Conference, took pen-and-ink sketches of 
prominent members of the body. He commenced 
on Hiram Mattison thus : " He sits now directly 
before us in total ignorance of our intended on- 
slaught upon him with pencil and papers in one 
hand, leaning a little forward, slender, lithy, and 

170 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

wiry, straight as an Indian, with neck a little too 
attenuated, bound up with a challengeless white 
cravat adjusted in a style the most an fait? The 
same writer, at the same Conference, drawing pic- 
tures, tried his pencil on John Dempster, one of the 
boys of the camp meeting at Minden. He said : 
" And well his words became him. Was he not a 
full-celled honeycomb of eloquence? Stored from all 
flowers, poetlike he spoke. Of the parentage, 
early history, and education of this venerable man 
we know just nothing." Dr. Watson could have 
learned something from George Peck, who was on 
that General Conference floor, of the early history 
of Dr. Dempster. It was Mother Peck who first 
discovered that Dempster would " make a preacher," 
after hearing him pray in a tent. She seemed 
to be able to read human character, as this whole 
story shows. 

In 1 85 1 George Sawyer was Presiding Elder of 
Oswego District ; William Peck was in the district 
stationed at New Haven. After a year he was trans- 
ferred to the Syracuse District and stationed at 
South Richmond. Next he went to Cleveland, in 
the same district, with G. G. Hapsgood presiding 
elder. I look over the associates of Uncle Wil- 
liam that year, and I find in the Conference I. L. 
Hunt, A. J. Phelps, George Gary, L. F. White, O. 
M. Legate, Gardner Baker, James Erwin, Miles H. 
Gaylord, J. B. Foote, Isaac S. Bingham, and the 
others already mentioned. Indeed, the northern 
tier of counties in New York State seems to 
have been productive of great men. We find 
children named after them all over the country. I 

Rev. William Peck. 


knew a Charles Giles, a George Gary, and a John 
Dempster. In the Congress of the United States 
is now N. M. Curtis, from St. Lawrence County, 
just six feet and a half high, a man every inch of 
him, with one eye gone, shot away at Fort Fisher. 
He voted and spoke for the prohibition amend- 
ment in the Legislature of 1884, an d I have been 
aching to get a chance to vote for him for Presi- 
dent or Vice President or something else for several 
years. William Peck could not well hold his place 
in the councils of such men as I have mentioned 
and be anything less than a grand success, and 
such he was for many years. His greatness com- 
menced at his conversion. Indeed, this may be 
said of all the five brothers and most all the great 
preachers of the world. Uncle remained at Cleve- 
land his term out and then went to New London, 
where he remained two years. Then he was ap- 
pointed to Oswego and Granby, which appoint- 
ment he held for two years. Then he went to 
South Mexico, thence to Parish. Gilbert Mills 
was his next appointment, 1861. He was there 
when the war broke out. Then he retired from 
the effective ranks to rest. Among his associates 
in this retirement were Charles Giles, M. H. Gay- 
lord, and Reuben Reynolds, and a large class of 
men, some of whom have already been mentioned. 
His biographer in his own Conference says: " He 
died in the village of Oswego Falls, March 16, 1883, 
in the eightieth year of his age. Pie celebrated 
his golden wedding January 1, 1878. He found 
in his wife those qualities which eminently fitted 
her for companionship with an itinerant Methodist 

172 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

minister, such as piety, industry, economy. He 
was a minister in the same Conference forty-two 
years. On all of his charges he was permitted to 
see much of the fruits of his labors in the conver- 
sion of souls ; while on the Victory Charge he re- 
ceived the blessing of entire sanctification, which he 
retained till death. He was a good pastor; as a 
preacher he was faithful, scriptural, earnest. He 
did not shun to declare the whole counsel of God. 
He spent much time in prayer, and was never so 
happy as when seeing the work of the Lord pros- 
pering on his charges. He was laid aside from 
active work for the last twenty years of his life." 

I heard him preach at Cortland at one of the 
family reunions, and I distinctly remember the text, 
and this is more than I can say of any other sermon 
which I heard on that great occasion. The text 
was, " A broken and contrite heart thou wilt not 
despise." The heart which God loves is a penitent 
heart, not a proud heart, nor a hard heart, nor a 
deceitful heart. The rich, the beautiful, the edu- 
cated, the young and high born are generally ac- 
cepted among men ; but God prefers a contrite 
heart, and, if contrite, it is not rejected on account 
of youth or good looks or wealth or poverty or 
learning or ignorance or high birth or low birth. 
Such a preacher was William Peck — original, scrip- 
tural, logical, convincing; and the thoughts fastened 
to the memory engraved to stay. Who can object 
to such preaching; Uncle William always enjoyed 
the family gatherings. He somewhat regretted 
that his dear old mother could not have known be- 
fore she died that he had taken upon himself the 

Rev. William Peck. 


sacred vows of the ministry. It is a luxury to put 
on record such a life. No apology had to be made 
when he was taken into the Conference. I have 
known some men, who were quite successful, 
to have apologies made for them for something 
they had or failed to have. There were no apolo- 
gies put forward to help our honored relative into 
the ministry. No objection was made to his lack 
of orthodoxy. I have known the presiding elder 
to plead for the admission of a man into the Con- 
ference even after he had admitted that he could 
not indorse some of the things that seemed to be 
taught in the Bible. No such plea was ever made 
for Brother Peck. There was no question as to or- 
thodoxy, no question as to his wife or the size or 
condition of his family, no question as to his liter- 
ary attainments, no question as to grammar or cor- 
rectness in language. This is the more remarkable 
since he came into a Conference composed of some 
of the finest scholars in the whole Church, like the 
men whose names have already been mentioned in 
this chapter. He took his position in the class, 
and the class was composed of some of the very 
finest scholars. After the regular two years' course 
he was ordained deacon with the rest. He did not 
have to be put back a year. He came in that year 
into full connection with his class in the Confer- 
ence. Sometimes it is put forward in a man's be- 
half that he has had a parsonage to build, or he did 
not have very good early literary advantages, or he 
had a great revival, or some plea in extenuation for 
his falling behind in his studies; but this one did 
not fall behind. He came in regularly and gradu- 

174 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

ated to elder's orders regularly. He was not ad- 
vised to go to some backwoods Conference, where 
there would not be such a high degree of culture 
demanded. The presiding elder will sometimes 
say : " There are localities where this brother will 
do considerable good if we give him a chance. He 
has a good voice, some degree of common sense 
and energy and push, and will make up for what 
deficiencies he may now have. I will find an 
opening for him somewhere if the Conference will 
give him a little leniency. ,, No such speech ever had 
to be made for the subject of this sketch. He 
was welcome to the pulpits of the most cultured, 
educated, and aristocratic people of the Empire 
State, and he did not have to go West and grow up 
with the country. He lived among his people and 
mingled with them. He was one of the most soci- 
able, friendly men of the whole family. He prob- 
ably mingled more with outsiders than any of his 
brothers. He kept to his work and took no vaca- 
tions. If a man got into trouble he had a strong 
arm to help him out. He sought not honors of 
men, but his whole soul was committed to rescue 
the perishing. He sustained the periodicals of the 
Church, the schools of the Church, and took all the 
collections. What more is wanted to complete this 
record ? He needs no eulogy from me. His life is 
his eulogy. Just such men have built up a strong, 
solid Church during this century which is fast wan- 
ing, and we do not half open our eyes to the gran- 
deur of the work they have accomplished. Their 
biographies are the history of the Church and a 
great part of the country. These five men of whom 

Rev. William Peck. 


I am taking account have been the field marshals 
of our Church on all these battlefields where the 
foes of righteousness have confronted the armies of 
the wounded Galilean. William Peck may not 
have been the Murat of the field, but he was as in- 
vincible as Soult or Ney. He had the unyielding 
spirit of Grant rather than the sweeping dash of 
Sherman. He had an unbending conscience, and 
that led him to the very front of all reforms. He 
could carry a musket or a drum with just as much 
heart as though he wore epaulettes and carried stars 
upon his breast. He never had to call upon a 
brother or other relative to help him into Confer- 
ence or out of a failure, for he made no failures. 
He struck heavy blows that counted, and did not 
beat the air, and whether he was honored with 
flowers and bright bouquets or not he preached the 
Gospel as best he could, and whether we lay flowers 
upon his tomb or not he rests his weary head upon 
the bosom of his crucified Master. 

John McClintock wrote forty years ago, in his 
preface to a volume of Biographical Sketches, as 
follows: "The age of chivalry was renewed in its 
noblest aspects in the beginnings of Methodism. 
Its history, especially in America, is a record of 
moral heroism unsurpassed in any age of the Church. 
The story is yet unwritten. The historians of the 
country have generally ignored in utter blindness 
one of the richest fields open to them, and the his- 
torians of the Church have done but little toward 
a true and ample account of the vast and valorous 
labors of these modern apostles. Every memorial, 
then, however slight, of the lives and toils of the 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons 

fathers is at once a blessing to the Church and a 
contribution to the true history of the civilization 
of the age. To this class belong the sketches of 
Wesley, Fletcher, Garrettson, McKendree, Roberts, 
Pickering, and Hedding, given in this volume. To 
a later period belong the lives of Fisk, Emory, 
Leavings, and Olin, but the very names will justify 
their collection here with the elder fathers. They 
are illustrations — wonderful illustrations in fact — of 
the vigorous and healthful growth of Methodism, 
each of them affording a noble specimen of high 
intellectual power, and large accomplishments de- 
voted with entire self-denial to the service of the 
Church of God." 

All this can be said truthfully of the five sons of 
Luther Peck. Indeed, William was twenty years 
old when Freeborn Garrettson came to Utica and 
preached for his brother George and remained sev- 
eral days. 

So the herioc times spoken of by Dr. McClintock 
reach down to the times of the five brothers, and 
Garrettson and Hedding and Leavings met them 
in Conference, and Leavings was an apprenticed 
blacksmith before he became a preacher, and so the 
brothers Peck were alongside of him in rising from 
" servants" to " ride on horses." Leavings was a 
mechanic in Troy, near Albany, and was just the age 
of George Peck within one year, and joined the 
Conference two years later than uncle George, and 
died in 1848. He was placed among the heroes by 
John McClintock and Dr. Davis W. Clark, and 
surely he is well deserving of the place given him, 
and the five brothers can occupy a place alongside 

Rev. William Peck. 


of him in Church history. They did the same kind 
of work that he did, traveled over the same kind of 
territory, and one of them was a member of the 
same Conference with him, and from it was elected 
to the same General Conference, and each of the 
five worked longer and lived .longer to work than 
he did. Dr. McClintock remarked in his preface 
that the volume of biographies would be followed 
by another in " succeeding years," but the grave 
closed over him before he had time to write another 
volume ; his own name deserves a high place on 
the scroll of heroes, and the five brothers have now 
gone, all gone, so it seems, to devolve upon an un- 
worthy son of the eldest of the five to contribute 
a slight testimonial to the work and worth of those 
heroes who are already historic in the chronicles of 
this marvelous nineteenth century. 

In the year 1869 the blazing sunlight printed 
their faces and forms side by side on one photo- 
graph card as the five stood in the pulpit of the 
Adams Avenue Church, Scranton, Pa. From that 
happy reunion they went to their several homes 
with a good-bye that had as little of the tones of a 
dirge in it as possible, and we can still trace their 
footprints as they walk the King's highway with a 
friendship hallowed and undying, and we say, "Hail, 
all hail ! you noble band of brothers. We will 
gather courage and inspiration as we look upon the 
shadow of your whitened locks and wrinkled faces. 
We love the Church you toiled to help build for 
us and our children." 

"For her our tears shall fall, 
For her our prayers ascend." 


178 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

Bishop Jesse T* Peck, D*D* 

THIS is the last of the five brothers, but not the 
least. The last shall be first and the least 
shall be greatest. So let it be with him. He was 
the greatest in office, but not in seniority. The of- 
fice of bishop is not by seniority, but by ballot, and 
the majority of votes settle the question. If this ar- 
rangement in this volume had been by office this 
one would have stood at the head of the family. In 
parentage they stand par nobile fratrum, in pedi- 
gree they were on a level, in talent people will 
judge differently, yet the four after the first are as 
near equal, one to the other, as men can possibly 
be. He was great in the sense that his brother 
George was great. With small beginnings and un- 
favorable surroundings, yet accomplishing wonders. 
He came upon the stage later, yet he was in the 
same drama that had called out the powers of the 
brothers before him. He was called from the low- 
est ranks to be field marshal, and in some respects 
he was the most attractive figure of the whole five 
brothers. He was the Murat of the dress parade, 
or the carnage of stern war. He was the " Plumed 
Knight' ' of the militant Church. He earned his 
titles and his spurs and his stars. He was not like 
Troilus, son of a king, yet he was Troilus, one of 
the five sons, and answers the description. " Do 


Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 179 

you know what a man is? Is not birth, beauty, 
good shape, discourse, manhood, learning, gentle- 
ness, virtue, youth, liberality, and such like the 
spice and salt that season a man? " In addition to 
these things which season a man he had faith and 
works, and his whole life was spent in watching 
and waiting and praying. His working days and 
Sabbath days were all the same, all filled up with 
good deeds. His first year in the itinerancy was a 
sample of all his years that followed. He did not 
have a long rest in the retirement of superannuation, 
but he wrought on until the close of the eleventh 
hour, when his Master called a halt. He lived and 
married and died and was buried in the territory 
covered by the old Genesee Conference, the same 
as did all his four brothers ; that same territory 
was the scene of their birth and their boyish sports 
and their early hard work for a living. Jesse T. 
Peck was elevated over his brothers, but not by the 
same process that Joseph was ; his brothers assist- 
ed in his elevation. All were voters in the Annual 
Conferences which centered in the General Con- 
ference, which body placed in his hand the scepter 
of authority. His oldest brother was not in the 
Conference, but he had sons in the Conference to 
vote in his stead, and when the day of ordination 
came he was presented by his older brother to be 
inducted into the sacred office of bishop over the 
whole Church. The only instance on record, as I 
think. The youngest of five brothers elevated to 
the highest office while the four were yet living, 
and all subject to his authority ; all were anxious 
that he would wear his honors meekly and do the 

180 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

work faithfully. There was no jealousy, such as 
appeared in the family of Jacob when a young 
brother won a badge of office. The four brothers 
could make obeisance to Joseph without being 
starved to it. This Joseph was loved by the others 
as well as by his father, and he proved himself 
worthy of their love and confidence. He grasped 
for knowledge greedily, more so than any of his 
brothers. He seemed to be in a hurry to become 
a scholar, and early put to use everything he could 
master. He used his voice early, and soon had it 
under good % control. He was an easy and plain 
talker. His oratory was more of the Cicero style 
than that of Demosthenes, and yet it had some of 
the elements of both. He could plead at the bar 
for the life of a criminal, or please a crowd of young 
people at a Sunday school picnic. In social meet- 
ings he was unsurpassed, and yet was more at 
home before a mixed multitude of ten thousand. 
He never, that I know, used notes or manuscript in 
the pulpit, yet his sermons were well matured, and 
his arguments made a perfect chain, with no flaw in 
any link. I have read sermons and addresses of his, 
yet they seemed to lack his presence, the graceful 
motion of his hand, the trill of his voice, and the 
flash of luster beaming in his eye. There was 
much thunder in his sermons, yet it was not 
" sound and fury," for it always signified some- 
thing, and the lightning and rain were never lack- 
ing. I have heard him on all occasions such as a 
popular minister will naturally meet. His soul 
seemed to breathe through everything he said, 
whether it was in a prayer circle or in the pulpit. 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 


On one occasion in his earlier ministry, at the 
close of some meeting where he had previously 
been stationed and returned for a visit, while most 
of his old parishioners were living and came out 
to hear him, he one especial commendation which 
he received was from an aged sister who came 
to him and expressed herself as being " so de- 
lighted to hear him read the beautiful psalm ; " 
and, " Are we yet alive and see each other's face." 
He was a splendid reader. Old psalms and hymns 
would sound new. He was the equal of Simpson 
in his palmiest days, though starting with less 
bright prospects and fewer advantages. John P. 
Durbin could on given occasions drive a great au- 
dience half wild with excitement. He could do 
the same thing seven days in a week, and as to 
books, his will be read as much and live as long as 
Durbin's. John A. Collins, of the old Baltimore 
Conference, was in his day a leader among minis- 
ters of the "border," and once intimated to Dr. 
Peck that he need not expect to stand up as the 
equal alongside of such mighty men as had grown 
up around Washington and Baltimore. " O, no," 
said Dr. Peck, " yet I propose to ride inside of the 
Baltimore carriage or I will charter another con- 
veyance." The great world can judge between the 
two men now since their lives have gone upon the 
great journal. When I was in Maryland John A. 
Collins was spoken of as the " bell sheep of that 
flock," and he well deserved to be thus classed. 
I would express the same idea, not in the same 
language, but may be not in any better language. 
He was elected that very year to the General Con- 

182 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

ference by the largest vote of anyone in the dele- 
gation. He was a grand man, and yet some grand 
men make a failure when they undertake to sit 
down on younger men. So he has not been alone 
in failures of that kind. Jesse T. Peck served four 
years in charges as pastor in charge and all alone. 
He was well received and his preaching attracted 
attention. Joining the Oneida Conference in 1832 
he was stationed in Dryden, the next year at 
Newark Valley, the next at Skaneateles, then at 
Potsdam. He was ordained deacon after two 
years and received into full connection ; there were 
eight so received out of a class of thirty-three. 
Then he went to the Black River Conference and 
was ordained elder in regular course, and his fifth 
year he went to Gouverneur and took charge of the 
high school. His eloquence and power as a 
preacher had already been commended far beyond 
his stations. My uncle, Samuel B. Kenyon, used 
frequently to speak of a funeral sermon which he 
heard him preach down in North Pitcher. It w r as 
the funeral of Abbey Reynolds, daughter of his old 
friend and pastor and teacher, Rev. Reuben Rey- 
nolds. It is the only sermon that I ever heard 
him speak of in lavish praise, and he was the only 
minister that my uncle ever admired as far as I 
ever heard him speak of them. He did not then 
make a profession of religion. He was my school- 
teacher one or two winters, and was a lawyer in 
cases around the neighborhood, and admired elo- 
quence. He admired Andrew Jackson and named 
a son after him, and that son was for some years a 
member of the Oneida Conference — Andrew Jack- 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 183 

son Kenyon, who was stationed at Elmira when he 
died, a few years ago. While Uncle Jesse was in 
that school he took his father and mother to his 
home and into his family ; he could well do it for he 
had no children. His mother died there with her 
w T eary head resting on his arm. He was married 
October 13, 183 1, to Persis Wing, and their married 
life has been the most happy possible. 

Through all his travels she has never failed to be 
by his side, and for more than sixty years his 
interests have been hers ; the Church has had the 
best service of her heart and her most earnest 
prayers, and she lives to pray for and help the cause 
which had the benefit of her best thought. Though 
frequently for years she had felt the pains of dis- 
ease her heart has never been discouraged. She 
led her husband in the heart work of the higher life 
in Methodism, and through her earnest prayers and 
exhortations he was enabled to write the work 
entitled The Central Idea of Christianity ; and if 
during her whole life she happened to hear a min- 
ister or anyone else drop a remark in the least 
derogatory concerning those who professed sancti- 
fication she would feel it in the depths of her heart. 
She has taken a great many steps for us nephews 
and grandnephews and grandnieces, and the grati- 
tude that is thus due will not and should not be 
dealt out sparingly. A thousand blessings on her 
in her age and feebleness. They went from Gouver- 
neur to Poultney, Vt., to take charge of another 
school, and thus he became a member of the Troy 
Conference; in that Conference he took a posi- 
tion alongside of the best men and the oldest 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

men in the ministry. Albany, Troy, and Saratoga 
have been in that Conference ever since there was 
a Troy Conference, the oldest portion of the old 
Genesee Conference. Dr. D. D. Whedon, the mas- 
terly Editor of the Quarterly Review, came from that 
Conference, and Noah Levings, already spoken of 
in these pages. Noah Levings was the age of his 
brother, George Peck, and yet the young principal 
of the school up in Vermont carried the votes of 
the Conference for delegate to the General Confer- 
ence ; and on the floor of that historic body he 
answered to the roll call among the veterans and 
giants of the whole Church. He was then a young 
man only thirty-three years of age. His brother 
George had been to five General Conferences be- 
fore this one and was in this. The delegate from 
Vermont was at home in the aristocratic city of 
New York and in the old Greene Street Church. 
The body was called to order by Bishop Soule on 
Wednesday, May I, 1844, in the morning; after 
singing George Pickering and Dr. Capers led in 
prayer. There were in that body all the great men 
then living in the whole Church North and South 
and West. The committees were selected after the 
choice of secretaries. Thomas B. Sargent was sec- 
retary. Jesse T. Peck was appointed on the Com- 
mittee on Missions ; Nathan Bangs was chairman. 
John A. Collins, Abel Stevens, Lovick Pierce, Wil- 
liam Capers, Leroy M. Lee, E. R. Ames, and 
several others composed this committee. The Com- 
mittee on Education was a very select committee 
and had only a few members. These were Henry 
B. Bascom, chairman, John P. Durbin, Charles 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 


Elliott, Stephen Olin, Matthew Simpson, Jesse T. 
Peck, and only seven others. A volume could be 
written on the lives of these, and some of them 
have been immortalized in biographies. Olin has 
traveled in the East as well as Durbin, and has also 
a place in McClintock y s Biographies, H. B. Bascom 
was a bishop in the Southern Church. Charles 
Elliott has a large place in the very first issue of 
the National Magazine by the editor, Abel Stevens, 
the historian. Elliott is represented in that maga- 
zine as having an involuntary jerk in his neck, and 
came near having a fight about it once while cross- 
ing a stream in a boat. Elliott was a fine scholar, 
and has written some works himself, one on Ro- 
manism. He was born in Ireland. He was on the 
committee that visited Lincoln from the General 
Conference during the dark days of the last war 
while the bloody battle of the Wilderness was 
going on. Simpson became a bishop, and was a 
master in pulpit eloquence« The men on the Mis- 
sionary Committee who became especially re- 
nowned were Nathan Bangs, whose life and work 
brought out a whole volume by Abel Stevens, and 
he himself has made himself immortal by his 
history of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Lovick 
Pierce and W. Capers were leaders in the Church 
South, and L. M. Lee was an editor, and wrote the 
premature obituary on George Peck. J. B. Finley 
was immortalized by a whole volume entitled A 
Backwoods Preacher, or the Pioneer Preacher. 
Alfred Griffith was a veteran from Baltimore. A 
great many good words have been written about 
him. He was the one who introduced the first 

186 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

resolution into that General Conference which 
brought on the collision between North and South. 
He was a smallish man, a little lame in one leg, 
and chewed tobacco. I heard him preach once 
in Bendersville, Adams County, Pa., on " He was 
wounded for our transgressions/* etc. It was at 
a Quarterly Meeting, and the sermon was a great 
one. Peter Cartwright has written his own life, 
and it is a very popular book, full of interesting 
incidents of his pioneer life. He it was that 
changed a great dancing party at a hotel into a 
revival meeting where most of the dancers were 
converted. The fiddler fled in dismay, and never 
collected his fees for the evening. Among such 
men appeared the youthful delegate from the 
Green Mountains, with his older brother in the 
same body, ready to check his fiery assaults on foes 
and keep him properly in line. There was in that 
General Conference the mighty, learned, polished 
men from the South who had never done a day's 
work in their lives. Manual labor was not in- 
tended for them and their like. Those Southern 
men have a place in history. Dr. G. Peck speaks 
of them rather in detail as follows : " William 
Capers was famous for his powers in the pulpit 
and ability on the floor of the General Confer- 
ence. His heart was right, but he was in fetters. 
He lacked courage to resist the proslavery tide and 
was swept along by the current of sectional in- 
fluence. Dr. Lovick Pierce was an independent 
thinker, a scholar, and a gentleman, but intensely 
Southern in all his views and feelings. He was an 
eloquent preacher, piling one great thought upon 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 187 

another, and closing with a climax which was like 
the bursting forth of a volcano. Dr. William Wi- 
nans was in many respects a great man. I heard 
him make his maiden speech in the General Confer- 
ence of 1824. He was a clear thinker and a logical 
reasoner. He was peculiar in style of dress. He 
never wore a cravat, and his collar, soiled with per- 
spiration, generally hung awry. Rev. John Early, 
of Virginia, was a man of courtly manners and 
somewhat haughty in his bearing. He generally 
contrived to get a seat near the president's chair. 
In speaking he was accustomed to saw the air with 
his right hand, bringing it down with an emphatic 
jerk at the end of every sentence. He was a per- 
fect gentleman among his friends, a zealot for his 
section and its peculiar institution. He seemed 
made for a leader, and became one of the Southern 
bishops. William A. Smith, of Virginia, was from 
the first the most noisy and blustering defender of 
slavery with whom the North had to contend. He 
was bold, fluent, vehement, and often exceedingly 
offensive to those whom he opposed. He occupied 
more time in the General Conference than any 
other member. He was a thunderer, but produced 
more noise than rain. A. L. P. Green was from 
Tennessee, a man of influence and talent, a kind- 
hearted gentleman not easily excited, strongly op- 
posed to abolitionism. B. M. Drake, of Mississippi, 
was one of the noblest specimens of a Methodist 
preacher, a Christian and a gentleman. He made 
a short speech in the case of Bishop Andrew, but 
his remarks were free from acrimony. A. B. Long- 
street, of Georgia, was a man of genius and an out- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

and-out Southern man. He held abolitionism in 
utter abhorrence. Thomas Crowder, of Virginia, 
was a plain, earnest, religious man. He insisted 
that the Southern men were the only true friends 
of the slaves, and while they were laboring for their 
salvation the abolitionists threw obstacles in their 
way. Samuel Dunwody was an old country man 
of Celtic origin. He essayed a Scripture argument 
in behalf of human bondage, but produced more 
mirth than conviction. Robert Paine became a 
bishop in the South ; he was from Tennessee. 
George F. Pierce, of Georgia, a son of Dr. Lovick 
Pierce, had a better elocution and more polish but 
less caution than his father. His speech for Bishop 
Andrew was remarkable for the beauty of its 
imagery and the power of its eloquence. Among 
other things he said : " Let New England go with 
all my heart ; she has been for the last twenty years 
a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buf- 
fet us. Let her go and joy go with her, for peace 
will stay behind.' ' 

These men are sketched here to show what the 
men from New England and the North had to con- 
tend with. The fight was over Bishop James O. 
Andrew, who had just as much authority North 
as South ; he had been elected to his office by the 
help of Northern votes, at a time when he was 
known as not being a slaveholder. Yet as years 
passed he, by some property arrangement, by in- 
heritance or marriage, became a slaveholder. The 
churches in the free States would not enjoy hav- 
ing a bishop make appointments among them if he 
was a slave owner, and so the resolution in the Gen- 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 189 

eral Conference was offered that the bishop should 
be requested to suspend the execution of his office 
until his slaves were disposed of. That was the 
cause of the great debate. John A. Collins, of Balti- 
more, favored the resolution, and made a tremen- 
dous argument in favor of it. The Southern breth- 
ren opened their heaviest batteries, and put forward 
men whose education had been thorough, whose 
hands had never been hardened by labor, whose 
faces had not been bronzed by facing cold blasts, 
and they supposed that the Northern and Eastern 
Yankees would surrender if they showed a bold 
front. After Collins, L. L. Hamline took the floor 
in favor of the resolution and presented the consti- 
tutional argument. Then the young Vermonter 
got upon his feet in that grand and learned assem- 
blage. He was himself, and all eyes were turned 
upon him. He was not well known in New York, 
and the delegates from South and West knew 
nothing of him as a preacher or a debater. The 
interest had centered in that debate, and all other 
questions were lost sight of in the anxiety over the 
outcome of that one question, Will a slaveholding 
bishop be advised to cease his executing the office 
of bishop until his slaves are disposed of? Threats 
had come from the South that the question must 
not be pressed, or else there would be a division of 
the Church, and all deprecated such an outcome. 
Every man that took the floor was very closely 
watched, for they were in the midst of a terrible 
crisis, and some were anxious to keep their con- 
sciences and yet not do any harm to the Church 
they loved. It was unfortunate for Dr. Pierce that 

190 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

he had let drop the remark in his great speech that 
he was willing to see a division. No such remark 
had as yet been made by the North or East. Jesse 
T. Peck had watched the debate, and kept his seat 
until he saw this opening in the joint of the har- 
ness, and then he went in calmly and deliberately. 
He disclaimed any intention of trying to cope with 
the old guard of the South, who were there in heavy 
armor. Then he turned his attention to the Doug- 
lass, the Hotspur from Georgia, and called the atten- 
tion of the Conference to the demand that had been 
made that the slaveholders be let alone ; let them 
have peace and quiet. This cry would have been 
more appropriate, and would have been readily 
heeded, before the line had been crossed by the in- 
truder. When the landowner moves over the line 
and takes possession of soil that is held by his 
neighbor the neighbor cannot possibly let the in- 
truder alone. There can be no peace and quiet 
until the neighbor's soil is vacated. Slavery has 
worked itself into the episcopacy, and the episco- 
pacy proposes to travel to Bunker Hill and the 
lakes and the Canada line. The time to be let 
alone is when the episcopacy disentangles itself 
from the institution or vacates the free North and 
retires over the line. Then the orator turned his 
attention to the cry, " Let New England go." 

"Why, sir, what is New England that we should 
part with her with so little reluctance ? New Eng- 
land, the land of the Pilgrims, the land of many of 
our venerated fathers in Israel, the land of Brod- 
head and Merritt and the venerated man who sits 
by my side, George Pickering, and a host of wor- 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 191 

thies whom we have delighted to honor as the bul- 
warks of Methodism in its early days of primitive 
purity and peril ? Let New England go ! No, sir ; 
we cannot part so easily with the pioneer land of 
the devoted and sainted Jesse Lee. It was the 
land of my sire. There repose the ashes of my 
fathers back to the earliest generation of this land. 
It is the birthplace of at least two of our venerable 
bishops who, thanks to Providence, are with us to- 
day ; of our honored Olin and venerated Bangs. 
It was the land of the sainted Fisk, and never, while 
our marvelous heavens are radiant with the glories of 
that luminary of the Church, shall the fair fame of 
the land that gave him birth be aspersed. Peace to 
his ashes and honor to his memory. How can I 
speak otherwise than warmly when reproach has 
been heaped upon a land that has furnished so many 
of the brightest luminaries of the Church? Sir, I 
have done. I thank you, and I thank the Confer- 
ence for the indulgence I have received. I em- 
barked in this noble ship when but a boy, and I 
cannot be persuaded to leave her. I like her form, 
her structure, and her machinery well. I like her 
passengers, her officers, and her crew. I like the 
sea on which she sails and the port to which she is 
bound. She is exposed to storms, and may some- 
times stagger beneath the beating tempest and reel 
amid the engulfing floods. At such times be not in 
haste to go. Other crafts may heave to alongside 
and invite us aboard. Look well to her ballast and 
build. Let us stay on board the old ship, sunshine 
or storm, darkness or light. I see her riding safely 
on the waves, gallantly bearing her precious freight 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

toward the haven of rest. In every gale that shall 
strike her as she is proudly careering amid the 
raging elements my voice shall be heard above the 
noise of wind and wave in the words of the dying 
Lawrence, 'Don't give up the ship.' " 

That remarkable speech settled several things ; 
one was, that he was a match for any man on that 
floor in forensic oratory, old or young. It settled 
the Hotspur of the South, and all his remarks which 
he made by courtesy only confirmed the justness of 
the verdict that he was prostrated. He admitted 
that his remarks were unfortunate when he said let 
New England go, but that remark was not needed, 
for everybody could see that he lay prostrate before 
the Harry of Monmouth. It settled the border 
Conferences, and made them one with New Eng- 
land and the North. He had to admit, and did ad- 
mit, that the brother from Vermont had talents and 
a bright future before him. This was not needed, 
for everybody could see it. The brother was not 
again put forward as a champion to make another 
unfortunate speech, and his victor was immediately 
promoted from a high school in Vermont to be 
president of a college in the old Baltimore Confer- 
ence as the successor of Dr. John P. Durbin. Flat- 
tery and fawning did not help the fallen champion, 
nor did it help his friends, and reticence would have 
been more appropriate to him and the occasion. 
He had left an unfortunate opening in his coat of 
mail, and the lance of his opponent had found it 
out, and it was fatal to him and to his side. The 
impartial historian pronounces that speech of that 
historic Conference the speech. 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 193 

His call to Dickinson College was hearty and 
unanimous, and he made arrangements immedi- 
ately to enter upon his duties. He went there 
while the grand men who had been there were re- 
membered and spoken of by everybody. Besides 
John P. Durbin, who had gone into the presidency 
to fill out the term of the lamented Robert Emory, 
whose widow would walk through the campus every 
few days in deep mourning, W. H. Allen had just 
been called to Girard. He was the Shakespearean 
of the faculty. Caldwell had died universally la- 
mented. John McClintock had resigned as pro- 
fessor to take the editorship of the Quarterly Review. 
While he was in Dickinson he was arraigned before 
the court for an alleged effort to assist runaway 
slaves in escaping from their masters. There was 
a lively chase after Negroes through the village of 
Carlisle ; they were trying to capture slaves, and 
there was a big rush after the slave catchers. I 
think the fugitives escaped, and it happened that 
McClintock and a friend were passing down the 
street at the time and were in the rushing crowd. 
It was alleged by witnesses on the trial that Pro- 
fessor McClintock urged on the rioters and encour- 
aged them. One witness swore positively that he 
heard McClintock tell them to hurry up. When 
asked to repeat the exact words of the professor he 
said the words were, " Go it you'ns." Then there 
was a doubt whether the witness was telling the 
truth, for it was claimed that a scholar like McClin- 
tock would never, and did never, use such an expres- 
sion. At any rate, after a long and tedious trial in 

the old Carlisle courthouse, the jury cleared the pro- 

194 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

fessor and got for it a severe castigation from the 
judge. The new president entered upon his duties 
with the old professor of mathematics, Sudler, and 
James W. Marshall, a perfect master of Greek and 
Latin; that eloquent and popular preacher, O. H. 
Tiffany, was instructor. The president wore the title 
of D.D., thus early in his career. He was frequently 
invited to other towns and cities to preach and dedi- 
cate churches. He came to Wilkesbarre in the 
autumn of 1849 to dedicate the new brick church 
on Franklin Street. After the dedication I was 
permitted to have a visit with him at the home of 
Ziba Bennett, where I became acquainted with Mrs. 
Bennett, whose maiden name was Slocum, a niece 
of the girl who was carried off by the Indians. 
Dr. Peck took me to Thomas Myer's bookstore in 
Kingston, and selected several books for me to read 
and paid for them himself. There was Xenophon's 
Anabasis, Sallust's books, Caesar's commentaries, 
and some others; he gave me orders to read them 
and then come to Carlisle. I obeyed orders and 
went, and taught school in Petersburg and Dills- 
burg, and kept along with the class ; under the in- 
struction of my uncle and the advice and help of 
my aunt I found life at college as agreeable as the 
average students find. My class was engaged in a 
rebellion that came near wrecking the ancient insti- 
tution. Yet there was no malice or deliberate in- 
tention to do harm at first, for I was inside and 
knew all about it. It started in this wise. Some 
man who belonged to the Roman Catholic Church 
had died, and he was to be buried with the 
rites of that Church. Several of my class wanted 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D 


very much to witness the ceremony, but it was to 
occur that morning right at the time when our 
class had a regular recitation ; as we lay on the 
grass under the old trees, the class appointed me a 
committee to see the president to get the class ex- 
cused. I performed my mission promptly and has- 
tily, and returned to the class with a mild negative 
reply from Dr. Peck. Some of the boys seemed to 
be very much afflicted because they must be de- 
prived of the luxury of seeing a dead man buried. 
I was looking over my books for an examination. 
I had been absent teaching and could not meet 
with the class that morning, Sherlock being in the 
same condition. The bell rang for recitation, and 
Pierce, who was not on the grass with us, went 
in to recite ; one waited for the other to start 
but nobody started, so there was only one in the 
room to recite. The professor marked the whole 
class absent, excepting Ralph Pierce, Sherlock and 
myself. We were not expected, so at the faculty 
meeting were not included among those in rebellion. 
Then the trouble commenced, the faculty trying 
hard to save the honor of the college and also the 
class. The junior class met and resolved to go if 
the seniors were expelled. The students did not 
apologize, and the faculty stood together bravely. 

That night everything was excitement. In the 
morning when we went into the chapel we found 
the pulpit filled with cord wood, the hay not 
cured piled into the altar, the old Bible was gone, 
and a stuffed man surmounted the lightning rod. 
The president came into the chapel looking dis- 
couraged, carried a Bible in his hand, and, standing 

196 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

in the altar on the hay, read a chapter, kneeled on 
the hay and prayed. He then made some remarks to 
the students about the peril of our beloved college 
and dismissed us, and we went out to see what 
would happen next. The town papers had some 
sneering reference to the " speck of war" in the in- 
stitution, and a report got out that a great amount 
of powder would be exploded in the basement of 
East College. Old Dr. Shearer came up from 
Dillsburg and told Dr. Peck to stand up for order 
and discipline. That he would do anyhow. Some 
asked him what they would do if the two classes 
went home. He replied, " We will reign over 
desolation." That remark got out among the stu- 
dents, and though they were surprised at it they 
tried to be funny and called it a big bluff. One night 
after the class had been informed that they could 
feel at liberty to leave and go home, Dr. Peck 
called me into his study and requested me to re- 
main until quite late, or until everybody had gone 
to sleep. He then retired, ordering me to let no- 
body in unless there was business of the greatest 
importance. I sat in the study for an hour or so 
and everything seemed to be quiet ; then a signal 
knock was heard at the door that opened into the 
hall, and I spoke out, "Who is there? " and in the 
answer I recognized the voice of Charlie Lore. I 
asked him what was wanted, and he replied that he 
wished to see Dr. Peck. I told him that I had 
strict orders to let him sleep and admit no one ex- 
cept on very important business. Then he replied 
that it would decide the fate of the class. I told 
him I supposed their fate was already decided, but 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 197 

I opened the door and went and awakened the 
president. He came out hastily and spoke to Lore, 
and then Lore put into his hands a paper which he 
had drawn up and he wished to know if the faculty 
would recall the suspension if they would sign it. 
The doctor read it over hastily and replied that he 
had no doubt that all who signed would be taken 
back into good standing. Lore went away and we 
all breathed easier. All but one or two signed the 
paper and were restored. The faculty met and in- 
dorsed the arrangement, the old Bible was hunted 
up, the hay and wood were cleared out of the 
chapel, the effigy was called down from the lightning 
rod, and the mermaid went up to her accustomed 
elevation on West College and then the work went 
on as usual. The class graduated and took posi- 
tions of honor. Two have been in the Congress of 
the United States, six went into the ministry and 
achieved distinction. They were a grand company 
of young men. Andrew Smively was the youngest 
one in the class and the best speaker. He has 
lived to become a prominent minister in the Prot- 
estant Episcopal Church and an author of books. 
Thomas Chattle has been in the Legislature of New 
Jersey. Charles B. Lore has been two terms in 
Congress from Delaware. Charles Albright was 
congressman at large from Pennsylvania. Thomas 
Sherlock was a Methodist preacher, and was sta- 
tioned in Carlisle when the war was going on, and 
was there when Lee perforated East College with 
cannon shot. Ulysses Hobbes became a prominent 
lawyer in Maryland, his native State, and made a 

198 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

Our diplomas were signed by Jesse T. Peck, 
Thomas Sudler, James W. Marshall, Otis H. Tif- 
fany, Hermon M. Johnson, and Erastus Wentworth. 
Every one of these men had a bright career. Sud- 
ler was old and died in Carlisle. Johnson became 
president of the college and remained so until his 
death. Wentworth went as missionary to China 
and learned the language, and after twenty years 
returned and was elected by the General Confer- 
ence as Editor of the Ladies Repository. Marshall 
was assistant postmaster-general under John A. J. 
Creswell, who was in the President's cabinet. Tif- 
fany was one of the finest pulpit orators of the 
whole country, and held his place until he died 
quite aged. 

In 1852 Dr. Peck resigned and gave place to Dr. 
Collins, and took the first church in Washington 
(Foundry) as pastor. He went from Washing- 
ton to Xew York, and after several years there — 
acting as tract secretary two years — he came to 
the Wyoming Conference, holding its session in 
Waverly, N. Y. This was the first Conference that 
I ever attended as an insider. The preaching on 
Sunday was under a large tent on the public green. 
He preached in the afternoon one of the greatest ser- 
mons of his life on " The harvest truly is great," etc. 

He went to California while the war was in 
progress and took his place on charges. He was 
one term in Sacramento, and while there a flood 
came and filled the parlor with water and mud, and 
those of his parishioners who came to the parson- 
age on official business, or any other business, were 
taken into the chamber windows out of boats and 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 199 

skiffs of various kinds. He went to the Pacific 
coast on account of his wife's poor health, and in 
that trip was a success, I think. He represented 
that Conference in the General Conference, and 
served as presiding elder. He finally came to his 
old field and joined the Troy Conference, and served 
the Hudson Avenue Church in Albany a legal 
term. He was a visitor at a session of the Central 
New York Conference, and by invitation was trans- 
ferred to that Conference. He is given credit for 
founding the Syracuse University, and his biog- 
rapher does not hesitate to say that there would 
not have been a Syracuse University if it had not 
been for the energetic efforts of Dr. Peck. He was 
elected the first chancellor of that splendid institu- 
tion and served efficiently for his term. 

During his whole life he maintained the strictest 
decorum. He never perpetrated a joke in the pul- 
pit. He enjoyed a good joke as well as any man 
could, but he never thought that the pulpit was 
the place for them. I can truthfully say that for 
all the five brothers. " No room for mirth or 
trifling here." This was the motto when preach- 
ing. Yet he was popular and powerful. I have 
heard him when he would pour out an almost irre- 
sistible tide of truth, when his right hand would be 
thrust out in front of him with the palm down and 
the fingers just a little bent, with a quick up and 
down vibration that would emphasize his mighty 
words, seeming to be in a hurry to scatter the pre- 
cious seed faster than he could from his lips. His 
great subject, "What must I do to be saved?" 
seemed to be his leading subject in speaking to 

200 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

sinners and outsiders. That sermon took the form 
of a book that has been before the public for forty 

He once preached away down in Alabama, and 
it was on Sunday evening at a camp meeting. He 
had a good camp meeting voice. The circle was 
full, the tents were full, and the woods were full. 
Thousands of black faces, and more of white faces, 
were turned up to him as he took his text. A 
great many tumblers of oil hung over his head for 
lamps, and they were fixed in a wire frame, and all 
were lighted. He preached, and the people shouted 
and prayed. In the most wonderful pressure of 
emotion, toward the close, he gave his hand a 
sweep over his head and rose upon his tiptoes ; his 
fingers came in collision with the temporary chan- 
delier, and down came the oil, anointing him com- 
pletely ; but a suit of clothes spoiled was about the 
extent of the damage done. 

On another occasion at a camp meeting, when 
he had preached one of his most powerful sermons, 
when the time came to sing and all were thinking 
of the sermon and the wonderful effect of it, a 
brother in the stand jumped up and called out, "A 
horse is lost, a sorrel horse. He had a white face 
and a bob tail." This was related to me by Dr. B. 
I. Ives, and he is authority for the story. This an- 
nouncement was all right, except it came at the 
wrong time. It should have been postponed or 
omitted. Indeed, there is a great and crying neces- 
sity for some things to be omitted in this poor world, 
and this announcement was one of them. 

The announcement by a presiding elder on one 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 201 

camp ground that " A large black woman's shawl 
has been lost on this ground," created a little 
ripple of merriment ; but the elder soon explained 
that the adjective of color referred to the shawl and 
not to the woman. 

Dr. Peck wrote more than the average man dur- 
ing his active life. I remember his commencing 
a Mental Philosophy, and was in the process of 
writing it when I called to see him one morning in 
his study at Dickinson. He wrote or finished a 
sentence while I was in and said, "I have just 
now with one dash of my pen settled the whole 
question of evidence and conviction. " Then he 
read it over to me, and I thought it was splendid. 
I afterward looked for the book, but it never 
made its appearance. I think he abandoned the 
enterprise, for not very long after this the True 
Woman came out, and not long after that the 
Central Idea of Christianity came before the 
public. He had an unresting spirit. His body 
was seldom at rest and his mind was always 
working on something. On one of his trips out 
to preach he was the guest of a Mr. Hurst, and in 
conversation with a little boy, John Hurst, as to 
his schooling, proposed to him to come to Dickin- 
son. John told him he could not think of that ; 
he had not the education to start him in a college 
course, and no money to pursue it if he had. Dr. 
Peck told him to come to Dickinson and they 
would have a nice time. He went and is now a 
bishop, and told me this story himself. Now, since 
he has gone beyond the reach of praise or blame, I 
make the record that he was the best friend of 

202 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

poor boys that I ever knew, except his brother 
George. The lives of both were spent in founding 
the schools that would help the young men in 
their struggles for success, and which they had such 
a fight to achieve without such schools. They lived 
and worked in the Church and in the Conferences, 
when there was a disposition to cry down colleges 
and college education even among the bishops; 
and the ambitious preachers, who could preach 
without graduating, were liable to imagine that 
their success was due to their paying more atten- 
tion to salvation than to Latin and Greek. Dr. 
Wentworth told of this instance. A bishop was in 
the cabinet hearing representations as to a young 
preacher whom his presiding elder wished to place 
in a certain station. The qualifications of the 
young man seemed to the bishop to be all right 
until the elder dropped a remark that the man was 
a graduate of a college. That settled it. The 
bishop listened no further, but immediately put 
his name down for a country circuit away off on 
the hills. That spirit Dr. Peck combated all his 

A great many people seemed to think that a boy 
full of salvation would lose it if he went to college. 
They used to tell this of one of the old-fashioned 
presiding elders in New York. The bishop asked 
him about a charge, and what kind of a man they 
wanted. He replied: "Two years ago we had a 
professor of chemistry ; last year we had a profes- 
sor of Greek ; now we want a professor of religion. " 

The question of the policy of the Church found- 
ing and endowing religious institutions of learning 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 203 

is not so old but what some of us can remember 
the fight over the subjects ; and in all these con- 
tests of which I have read I have found my uncles 
on the side of the religious schools. Their whole 
lives show it. As late as 1834 "the friends of theo- 
logical seminaries were few. The Christian Advo- 
cate excluded the discussion. I took the unpopu- 
lar side and declared myself in favor of such insti- 
tutions. I have lived to see precisely my line of 
argument adopted by the General Conference/' 
See page 183, Life and Times of George Peck. 

Men brought up as they were, and converted as 
they were, would seem to have reasons for taking 
the other side, but they never did. 

Uncle Jesse was not averse to trying his physi- 
cal strength when occasion required, and yet he 
did not seek after the occasion. At one time a 
few prominent ministers and doctors of divinity 
were having a free-and-easy talk and visit when the 
discussion turned to physical strength. A doctor 
made a remark that the largest men were not 
necessarily the strongest. To illustrate his point 
he took hold of Uncle Jesse to show how easily he 
could handle him, when the giant took him up in 
his arms and swung him around as a mother would 
a child, and came near giving him a place outside 
through the open window, and would if the doctor 
had not entreated for leniency. Both men after- 
ward became bishops. Mr. Peck on one occasion, 
while a teacher, had cause to reprimand a boy, and 
soon after the father came into the school room 
and intimated to the teacher that he had come 
into the literary inclosure to administer unto the 

204 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

said teacher a corporeal castigation, and he took 
an oath then and there that he would do it. Yet 
the teacher walked out toward the said castigator, 
and the said individual turned and left without 
firing one round. He simply postponed the casti- 
gation, notwithstanding his emphatic oath. This 
was the only thrashing Uncle Jesse ever had that 
there is any record of or any tradition. 

In the year 1864, on the deck of the steamer, he 
was called up before a Catholic father to be cate- 
chised, and then he felt his own " extreme little- 
ness." This is the language he used on the stage 
in Shakespeare Hall, Syracuse, when he was speak- 
ing as president of the convention which founded 
Syracuse University. 

After his return from California he called upon 
me in Newark Valley, and at the depot I persuaded 
him to step upon the scales. When I told him he 
weighed two hundred and ninety-five pounds he 
remarked that that was light, but explained it by 
saying that he was always a " little thin " in hot 

He had the polish of a perfect gentleman. He 
was never uncouth, but always had respect for 
other people's feelings or embarrassments. He 
was a good listener. He could hear others talk 
as well as talk himself, and enjoyed it better. 

In 1872, being in the old Conference which 
started him out into the ministry forty years be- 
fore, stationed in Syracuse, where the university 
was located, he was elected as one of the delegates 
to the General Conference. His brother George 
was elected also in the Wyoming Conference, and 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 


the two met again in the high court of the Church, 
both leaders in educational movements, and both 
prominent authors. When the will of that General 
Conference was registered he was found to be one 
of the elect as bishop, and the last one elected. 
Yet it was all done in a brotherly manner. There 
were several grand men whose friends were push- 
ing them forward for the place, but they conceded 
the badge of authority to him, and they waited. 
In a few years he was assigned to Wyoming Con- 
ference as president, and at the proper time came 
and performed his work with a brotherly spirit. 
He preached on the Sabbath, and at the close of 
the meeting I heard Vincent M. Coryell remark, 
"That was the greatest sermon he ever preached,'* 
and he had heard the great sermon in the large 
tent on the common in Waverly twenty-three 
years previous. It was apparent to all that hard 
work had not robbed him of his old-time fire of 
oratory. While acting in his capacity as bishop 
he went to London as a delegate from this coun- 
try to the world's Methodist council, or Ecumenical 
Conference. There he came into close conference 
with men from all parts of the world, and they 
were representative men of all the different 
branches of the Church of John Wesley — the 
Wesleyans of England, and the Primitives, the 
Calvinistic followers of Whitefield ; then the 
Methodist Episcopal of the United States, this 
which he represented, the largest and the most 
powerful of the whole number ; the Methodist 
Episcopal of the South ; the Methodist Protes- 
tants of the United States, and the Wesleyan 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

Methodists, who left the old Church on account of 
slavery ; the Free Methodists, who went out from 
us on account of our lack of perfect love and too 
extravagant dress and joining the Masons and 
other secret societies ; the colored Methodists, 
Zion and Bethel, one branch having bishops and 
the other not. What a grand gathering of men 
who had fought each other on theological fields 
came together there to confer and shake hands and 
express love and regard for each other — Swedes 
and Norwegians, Hindus and Chinese, Germans 
and Frenchmen, Welsh and Scandinavians ! The 
South and East and West and North came with 
their trophies of victory and rejoiced together. 
They worshiped a common Saviour, revered a 
common Bible, and were laboring to gain a com- 
mon home at last. Slavery, that had driven the 
North and South apart, had been extirpated, and 
there was no more cause for contention between 
them. The bishops North and South could kneel 
around the same sacramental board, and eat of the 
same bread and take of the same cup. The old 
side and new side Methodists were all on one side 
now, and could sing, " Blest be the tie that binds." 

Many of the contending champions on both sides 
in the strife of 1844 had gone to their account, and 
peace and love reigned. The old-fashioned love 
feast tickets had gone out of use, and everyone 
could wear a gold watch and chain if he was able 
and willing. Freemasons sat side by side with 
those who would never enter a secret lodge. 

When I was living in Maryland, in 1852, I was 
right in the midst of both parties, the " old side " 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 207 

and " new side," and learned that the old side were 
the regular Methodists and the new side were the 
Protestant Methodists. This division made two 
parties in the same families. I had in my school 
children who could hardly tell the difference be- 
tween the Churches, yet they knew that there were 
two kinds of Methodists. I heard both kinds 
preach, and they would exchange pulpits in some 
instances. I learned some things that occurred 
when the rupture was made. A stormy Confer- 
ence had held a session in Baltimore, and at the 
close ministers on both sides of the strife, on their 
way home North, stopped over in Lancaster, Pa., 
and it was announced E. Yates Reese would preach 
in the courthouse. A great crowd went, and the 
sermon was in vindication of the new side, and 
showed how the laity had been oppressed by 
bishops and presiding elders, and it was time 
for the laymen to assert their rights and go into 
the Conferences and let their voices be heard in 
favor of justice against oppression, and so on. As 
he closed up he invited remarks. John A. Gere 
took the judge's desk, took out his hymn book, 
and deliberately read the hymn : 

"Jesus, great Shepherd of the sheep, 

To thee for help we fly; 
Thy little flock in safety keep, 

For O, the wolf is nigh ! 

" He comes, of hellish malice full, 

To scatter, tear, and slay ; 
He seizes every straggling soul 

As his own lawful prey." 

208 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

Then after a short prayer he opened on the " new 
side/' He pictured the toils, privations, poverty, 
and sacrifices endured to save men from sin, and 
how the fathers had built up a grand Church where 
once was a howling wilderness. He then pictured 
the sneers that they had been subjected to by men 
who had been lifted out of the mire by their efforts; 
how the children that they had nourished and 
reared had gone out from them and were working 
all kinds of schemes to take as many as they could 
out of the fold. He also made such other state- 
ments as he alone knew how to make, and he knew 
what he was saying. The audience was wrought 
up to the highest pitch of excitement. All at once 
Thaddeus Stevens jumped to his feet. He was in- 
side the railing, and before the sermon was closed 
broke out in expressions which bordered on pro- 
fanity — " Give it to them, give it to them." And 
kept up his applause in such expressions, swinging 
his hat : " Hurrah for the old Methodist Church ! 
Pile it on them, they deserve it. Three cheers for 
the old Church ! " 

A relative of Bishop Bowman told me this story, 
and I have no doubt the bishop knows all about it. 

It is a pleasant thought to me that all the 
branches of the great Methodist family can now 
shake hands and be friends. The world is our 
parish ; put up thy sword if it is drawn to slay 
members of the Church of God. 

Bishop Peck went to the Continent and visited 
Denmark, had an interview with the king, and then 
hastened home to pursue his work. 

I have in my library a volume entitled, Sketches 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 209 

of New England Divines. The author introduces 
us to a remarkable family of ministers named Ma- 
ther. They were pioneers, and lived and preached 
in the olden times. There were only four of them, 
so they cannot compete with the five brothers of 
whom we are writing. The Mathers are introduced 
by a verse of poetry, as follows : 

" Under this stone lies R. Mather, 
Who has a son greater than his father, 
And eke a grandson greater than either." 

So we conclude that these were a father and son 
and grandson, and all ministers. Richard was the 
first Mather and Increase was the second. He was 
named Increase because he was the sixth son of 
Richard, and they were glad of the increase in a 
family already fair in size. The colonies were in- 
creasing in numbers and wealth. The family lived in 
Dorchester. The next minister was Cotton Mather, 
who was a grandson of Richard and a son of In- 
crease. Then the other was Eleazer, who was a 
brother of Increase. So there were two divines 
that were brothers, and it speaks of two other 
brothers who were divines. Increase Mather had 
five brothers, but only three of them entered the 
ministry. Four brothers, and only two of them 
mentioned by name. Cotton Mather, son of In- 
crease, is rendered immortal by his deeds, sermons, 
and writings. He is reported as a good man. 
"The three hundred and eighty books of which he 
was author have perished along the passage. He 
tried to float them on a craft of witchlore, but 

they have gone down so deep that experienced 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

divers would be required to bring them up to the 

Cotton Mather has by his talents and energy 
made the family immortal, and yet such immortal- 
ity is not desirable because of its connection with 
the hanging of witches. Several girls charged with 
witchcraft were executed mainly by his influence. 
I once heard a popular preacher try to defend the 
hanging of witches, and one reason which he put 
forward among others was that one girl came into 
a public assembly naked, and the conclusion of 
this divine was that such exhibitions should re- 
ceive the extreme penalty of the law. The Sav- 
iour's advice would be to clothe such ones instead 
of hanging them. The sons of Luther Peck were 
never influential in the hanging of anybody, witches 
or criminals. Three of them saw a dog hung, but 
were not needed to help it along. As to the books 
that they have published, though not quite as 
numerous as Cotton Mather's, at present, there is 
no need of diving bells to find them. 

But the name Cotton and the name Mather were 
both great names in the Church of New England, 
so he must have been a great man ; at any rate the 
biographer finds reason to place some of the 
Mathers on the scroll of fame. It is claimed that 
Cotton's childhood and youth were not remark- 
able. He ate, drank, and frolicked, rejoiced and 
wept, hoped and feared, like other lads of his time. 
A man in miniature, and he became great when he 
grew up. The biographer speaks of his peculiar- 
ities. He once prayed the Lord to kill him rather 
than leave him to folly. A few moments after 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 


praying he was taken very ill, and then he feared 
that his prayer was going to be answered, but man- 
aged to get over the disease which was only slight. 
The historian says: "One idea, and small at that, 
was sufficient to send a tremor through his soul 
and bring to the surface his entire wealth of 
emotion and energy. This quality of mind urged 
him on to the extremes of vanity and folly/' True 
there is a text of Scripture that says, " Great men 
are not always wise ; " still it will be difficult to 
make the world believe that any man should be 
called great who is constantly urged on to the ex- 
tremes of vanity and folly. No one ever said this 
about any one of the five brothers. The historian fur- 
ther says, " He had very little real common sense." 
If that could have been said of any one of my four 
uncles this story would never have been w r ritten. 
Again we read, "Whatever common sense he in- 
herited was pretty thoroughly shaken out of him 
in the college curriculum. " My uncles did not 
have any curriculum, so they escaped that kind of 
shaking. This biographer thinks that a schooling 
on a farm would have been the thing for Mather, 
but he never enjoyed a training of manual labor, 
and the want of it marred the beauty of his whole 
life. That was bad, but it cannot be helped now. 
This is the Mather among all the divines in the 
family who was the grandson greater than his fa- 
ther or grandfather. It would be hard to tell what 
place the grandfather and father would deserve 
if the one especially great had been left without 
common sense and constantly running into folly, 
and his book too deep in the ocean of oblivion to 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

be found by the help of a diving machine. There 
would not be much left for them to immortalize 
upon. But Cotton Mather had some knowledge 
of several languages. He had 

" A party colored dress of patched and pybald languages, 
'Twas English cut on Greek and Latin 
Like fustian heretofore on satin." 

I begin to wonder as I read why the name of 
Mather ever appeared in the list of renowned men. 
The names of Jesse Lee, Elijah Hedding, George 
Pickering, and Stephen Olin are not out of place 
on a historic roll. They have all been introduced in 
these notes, but as to the Mathers, a quiet slumber 
in oblivion would have been preferable to the pic- 
tures in that book. I should fear, if I were the 
author, that so many Mathers would load down the 
craft and carry my sketches down where the six 
hundred volumes have gone, down below the 
diver's ken. Maybe these lives just mentioned 
will keep the volume floating, yet they have a 
heavy burden to carry. No wonder the author 
states that these facts are " not especially en- 
couraging to the amateur authors of the hour, who 
hope to transmit their lucubrations to future pos- 

It seems proper now to give a slight sketch of 
the historical book written by Dr. Jesse T. Peck. 
It is a great book and entitled, History of the 
Great Republic. The writer has given his best 
powers to this work, and after earnest research 
and unwearied examination he has brought out 
the book of his life. He attributes to divine 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 213 

providence the whole triumphant march of the 
country from its discovery to the present day, 
and shows the fact by the details of history. 
The idea expressed in the immortal Declaration, 
" with a firm reliance on the protection of divine 
providence we pledge to each other our lives, 
our fortunes, and our sacred honor/* The same 
idea is expressed in the national hymn, 

"Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, 
And this be our motto, ' In God is our trust.' " 

The same idea is expressed on the national coin, 
" In God we trust. " The book teaches this and 
nothing more — the nation is a Christian nation. I 
have been startled to find some very important 
items of history that I have not read anywhere else, 
or if I have I have forgotten them. I had not re- 
garded George Washington as such a tremendous 
fighter as Joe Hooker, or Philip Sheridan, or Stone- 
wall Jackson, but supposed him to be a wise and 
cautious general, not a fire eater, but a conservative 
fighter and a wise ruler. But on page 223 occurs 
the description of his march on Trenton that 
changed my estimation of the father of my coun- 
try. The British commander had come to the 
conclusion that his several victories had settled 
the rebellion, and that one more little brush after 
Christmas would wind up the whole business. 
But the American commander called Cadwalader, 
Green, Sullivan, and Stark into counsel, and they 
decided to cross the river that night, Christmas 
night. They marched toward Trenton where the 
Hessians were resting ; had trouble with the float- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

ing ice, and took all night to cross ; but at four in 
the morning, in a violent snowstorm, while the 
enemy were sleeping off their Christmas dinner, 
they awakened the Hessians and told them they 
were there thus early on purpose for a fight and 
did not propose to wait until the weather mode- 
rated ; and they did not wait. " They were com- 
pletely surprised," the commander fell mortally 
wounded. The light horsemen hastily mounted 
and escaped to Bordentown. Washington, after 
this lively breakfast spell, recrossed the river with 
a thousand prisoners and six cannon, leaving his 
proud enemy to wonder how a dying antagonist 
could strike a blow so sudden and decisive. This 
turned the tide in favor of America, and influenced 
Cornwallis not to take his contemplated vacation 
home; otherwise the great British general might 
have been absent when the army surrendered to 
Washington. The whole thing was providential, 
and whether Cornwallis was glad or sorry, his sword 
was surrendered, and we have a free country. I 
am delighted that I am no longer ignorant of the 
Christmas surprise party which Washington so 
successfully managed on that stormy night, and I 
am delighted to learn that there was no postpone- 
ment on account of the inclemency of the weather 
or the roughness of the river. This story is prob- 
ably in all the histories, but I confess I had forgot- 
ten it. 

The volume brings together the great men of 
Church and State. Roger Williams and John Jay 
are engraved on the same page with John Quincy 
Adams and Patrick Henry. Franklin and Webster 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D, 


and Clay and Francis Asbury are side by side. 
Lincoln and Simpson and Wayland are shoulder to 
shoulder with the great men of the nation and the 

In dedicating this great historic work he kindly 
remembers Rev. Reuben Reynolds, who taught 
him the alphabet, and his sister, Elizabeth, who 
gave him all the instruction in the art of speak- 
ing he ever received ; D. D. Whedon, his earliest 
and best classical teacher; Henry Halstead, who 
preached the sermon on the day of his conver- 
sion ; his excellent brother, George Peck, who ten- 
derly bore him to school in his childhood, and his 
faithful wife, to whose energetic promptings and 
constant earnest encouragement he must refer all 
his important literary enterprises. These are the 
words of a man whose heart was overflowing with 
gratitude for what had been done for him. Thank- 
fulness was a part of his nature, and it never grew 
weaker as he grew in popularity. Too many in 
this poor world of ours forget, in their floods of 
prosperity, the humble people who helped them 
in the days gone by when they were weak and less 

This American history is not intended to start a 
new theory of government, but to elaborate and 
codify an old one, as old as government itself. Of 
course average men, not professing Christians, can- 
not see very clearly the hand of God in a govern- 
ment by the people. They go to the polls and vote, 
and their votes elect the President, and they can- 
not understand what divine providence has had to 
do with it. An assassin shoots the President, and 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

the government undergoes a change, and the people 
seem to fear that the supreme God has not done 
all he could to keep our President in his position, 
else he would have paralyzed the hand of the as- 
sassin. It is all true that we trust in the great 
Ruler for our national existence and national life, 
yet there is all through it human actions and de- 
cisions. The supreme Ruler does not elect our 
rulers. Nor does he decide our law cases, nor plant 
our corn, nor husk it, nor shell it, nor grind it, nor 
cook it The work is human work, and still a 
Providence is over us. This history shows how. A 
Kentuckian a few years ago was discussing the 
question of who should be the next President. 
The other man was a believer in the near ap- 
proach of the final termination of all sublunary 
affairs. The discussion waxed warm, the man from 
the South stoutly maintaining his side until the 
millenarian wound up on him in a short way, 
saying, " I tell you, my friend, you are going to 
be defeated ; Christ is coming to take the reins of 
government before the next inauguration. " The 
Southerner replied right promptly, " I will bet 
one hundred dollars he cannot carry Kentucky.' ' 
The one had taken the extreme religious view of 
it, and the other had taken the extreme human 
view. The Lord's authority does not depend upon 
the votes of men, and men's votes are not regu- 
lated by any strange compulsion from heaven. We 
are human and must do the best we can, and when 
we appeal to the protection of divine providence 
we do not expect that he will smite our opponents 
with paralysis and let us lie upon our beds on elec- 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 217 

tion day. We must work and trust in the Lord ; as 
Lincoln once said, " Let us renew our trust in God 
and go forward without fear and with manly 
hearts." That kind of work will bring the millen- 
nium. Such a millennium will carry all the States, 
North and South, East and West. 

In this book is found the logic of .history, the 
history of four hundred years. That the country has 
a providential government is admitted by all right- 
thinking students of history. Bishop Simpson 
has frequently given out the same sentiment, but 
it was left to the fifth son of Luther Peck to place 
the proofs of the fact before the public so that 
everybody can see them. Every young man should 
read the book, and he will come to the conclusion 
that the true citizen of this republic is loyal to the 
Being who rules over all, and if the infidel feels 
lonesome there is nothing to hinder him from leav- 
ing. The decalogue is the underlying foundation 
of all our national and State laws. Washington ac- 
complished a valuable work, not because he prayed, 
but because he fought and prayed. It is our duty 
to punish the assassin and paralyze his arm, for if 
we leave it for the Lord to do we will find it not 
done. A few years ago the Editor of the New York 
World, on a Christmas Day, proclaimed this idea : 
" This nation is a miracle, a greater miracle than 
all the miracles that Christ was said to have per- 
formed when he was upon earth. A potential 
nationality like ours is not an accident, but a 
Christian miracle, and so great, so powerful, so 
rich that no one need hesitate to assist in the 
coronation of the Christ on this great anniversary." 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

The same idea pervades the History of the Great 
Republic. The logic of the whole volume is that the 
unbeliever, the blasphemer, and the criminal are no 
help to the country's prosperity, but a hindrance. 

It was Dr. Elon Foster that had the thoughts 
which pervade the book, and he urged and pressed 
Dr. Peck to the task of writing it, and at his earnest 
entreaty the volume was written. All through the 
book an unseen Providence is brought to the front. 
Roger Williams founded u Providence," and so 
named it because the whole movement was provi- 
dential. The battles and victories of the last war 
are recited as providential from Fort Sumter to 
Appomattox. As we read over and through the 
book from preface to finis we breathe easier and 
feel mightier as we exclaim, " The Lord reigns." 

But I have prolonged this chapter to about the 
proper limit, and yet I could write a whole volume 
on the life and works of this noble-hearted man. I 
leave him to the judgment of the reviewers, his- 
tory, and his great Judge above. I look over the 
transactions of his later days and I admire them. 
His subscription of twenty-five thousand dollars 
to Syracuse University before it had been thought 
probable that it would come into existence, then 
the failure of the insurance company, the doubling 
of that noble subscription, then the payment of the 
amount in full, and, after getting a receipt therefor, 
kneeling down with his little company and thank- 
ing God that he had lived to see the university a 
grand success and to see his subscription of half a 
hundred thousand paid. I exclaim, " Well done ! " 
and it does in no way detract from my joy to think 

Bishop Jesse T. Peck, D.D. 219 

that possibly in some way in the future I might have 
become a sharer in that fifty thousand. It will do 
more good in the long years to come than I could 
do with it even if I could have it all. He had a 
son and daughter, both adopted, and they were 
dear to his heart. Melissa went to India as a mis- 
sionary. She died there and was buried on the 
banks of the Ganges. 

Now he rests, " having folded his hands in a last 
long truce of toil." I gaze upon the picture of that 
noble face and feel it a great honor to have the 
privilege of recording some facts in the life of the 
noble man. I have heard him sing, 

" O, happy day that fixed my choice 
On Thee, my Saviour and my God," 

when it seemed to me there was a good deal more 
than sounding the notes and speaking the words. 
He was the living embodiment of poetry itself. His 
life was the shortest of any of the five brothers, yet 
he passed his threescore and ten years, and carved 
out an immortality as great as those who lived 
longer. His work and words will live along down 
the ages as long as men and women shall admire 
noble deeds and eloquent words. A patriot, a 
Christian, a scholar, a liberal giver, and a loving 
husband and friend, the last one of the youthful 
drum corps has gone to sleep, and the notes of the 
last tattoo have died away amid the dews of Jor- 
dan^ banks. " Can that man be dead whose spirit- 
ual influence is upon his race? He lives in glory, 
and his speaking dust has more of life than half its 
breathing molds." 

Appendix A. 



Glances into the Past. 
The Leader yesterday promised to present to its 
readers a part of the paper read by Rev. J. K. Peck 
before the Methodist Preachers' meeting on Mon- 
day morning of this week. The first part is pre- 
sented to-day, with the certainty that it will be 
scanned with great interest, not only by older resi- 
dents, but by younger ones as well. The paper is 

A Retrospect. 
I was born sixty-five years ago on a blustering 
December night among the snowy hills of Chenango 
County, N. Y. It was the unauspicious Friday, the 
most unlucky day of all the seven. The house 
seemed large to me, yet it was really a small house, 
two rooms besides the buttery. The main room 
was my world, my empire. There I built houses 
out of sticks and arranged ranks of soldiers, and 
heard the clock tick and saw the great pendulum 
swing, and there the unwearied wheel spun its end- 
less threads as the hours went on. There was my 
trundle-bed. A shop was far off, but only across the 
street. The fire blazed and smoked on the hearth. 
The horses came to the shop to have their turn in 
repairs. Men came and went. Women came and 
went. One man came on horseback and remained 

222 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

overnight. I remember him some, but I remember 
his horse more. That horse was a wonder to me. 
It would follow its master without the aid of bridle, 
strap, or rope. My mother called the man " Brother 
Ayl worth." 

To-day I read in the old Conference Minutes of 
Oneida Conference for 1829, " Cayuga District, 
John Dempster, presiding elder ; Cortland, James P. 
Ayl worth." In the same district stands the name 
of William Rounds as a junior preacher. Zacha- 
riah Paddock was stationed in the classic village of 
Cazenovia, and George Peck was in the sweet valley 
by the lake in a village called Ithaca. Morgan 
Sherman and Benjamin Ellis w r ere stationed in Wy- 
oming and Wilkesbarre. That meant that they 
had free range over Luzerne, Wyoming, and Sus- 
quehanna Counties. Lyman Speary was at Sharon, 
Horace Agard was presiding elder on this the 
Susquehanna District. Binghamton, Owego, and 
Ithaca w r ere in this district. James P. Aylworth had 
swept around with his educated horse from Cort- 
land to Brackle, where the father and I lived, and 
we entertained him. He was twenty-two miles from 
Cortland, yet on his charge. I lived then two miles 
and a half from the nearest place, that was the 
Hook; I went to that village which was composed 
of vast numbers of houses, which consisted, as I 
afterward learned, of two stores, one tavern, and 
four other buildings. The whole Methodist Epis- 
copal Church then was half as old as it is now, 
but not half as strong, nor half as large, nor half as 
rich, nor half as influential. The sixty-five years from 
Barbara Heck and Philip Embury and John Street, 

Appendix A. 


down to the time I buckled on the armor at five 
years of age, were not marked with as much prog- 
ress as the same number of years have been since. 
When I was seven years old I went to school to 
Ahira Johnson. 

In 1836 I went to Cazenovia on horseback, and 
took some matters of clothing to my oldest brother, 
who was then in Cazenovia Seminary at school. 
After weary hours of looking and longing and rid- 
ing I rode into the city. A saucy boy, as I sup- 
posed, came out through a gate and opened his 
mouth at me. I was afflicted, but I ventured to 
ask for the residence of Mr. Peck. This boy took 
me to the right house. He was a son of Mr. Peck, 
and I was a distant cousin of his, and my brother 
was in the school, and the boy's father was the 
school superintendent. 

In the seminary in my brother's room I saw W. 
H. Olin, then a boy of seventeen. He and my 
brother were roommates. The visit was quite a 
pleasant one to me, and I rather regretted leaving 
for home. Time went on, and my school days were 
interrupted by months of hard work. 

In 1842 I came into this valley with a pair of 
sore feet and no money. I worked hard and man- 
aged to get my board and some matters of cloth- 
ing. I attended the session of the Conference in 
Wilkesbarre in August, 1843. I heard Stephen 
Olin preach in the old church on the square near 
where the courthouse now stands ; I sat in the 
gallery. His text was, " Let not your heart be 
troubled : ye believe in God," etc. The sermon 
had pathos and power in it. The ordination of 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

deacons followed. In the class were men whose 
names became familiar in after years, such as 
Ephraim Hoag, George H. Blakeslee, Henry Browns- 
combe, and Reuben Nelson. 

The Wyoming Seminary was founded and lo- 
cated at this Conference, and the brick building 
went up. Reuben Nelson, who was a deacon and 
that year left without an appointment, and his name 
placed among the superannuated preachers, was 
called to be principal. This was the year when 
the world was to wind up its affairs and retire. 
Still, the Oneida Conference went on and built the 
seminary. Kingston was the center of the teach- 
ing that the last days had come. I heard Dayton 
F. Reed in the old Kingston church prove by fig- 
ures on the blackboard that the year 1843 was to 
close up all earthly matters. He preached morn- 
ing and evening in the absence of the regular pas- 
tor, J. B. Benham. 

Time went on, and the world went on. The fig- 
ures that showed us the end will have hard work 
to prove to us that they are always truthful. These 
forty-six years have shown marvelous events on the 
world's wide stage. The great debate in the Gen- 
eral Conference over the slaves of Bishop James O. 
Andrew rocked the continent from center to "cir- 
cumference. The Methodist Church was compara- 
tively young, but it was old enough to attack a 
giant wrong, though the giant threatened it with 
utter annihilation. The Southern delegates said : 
" You go on with this agitation, and our pulpits will 
be vacated. Our churches will be turned into 
market places, and we will be standing all the day 

Appendix A. 


idle, and why? ' Because no man hath hired us/ " 
People shuddered and stared, vast crowds thronged 
the galleries where the Conference held its sessions. 
There were no millionaires in that General Confer- 
ence, but a company of preachers who had con- 
sciences — abundance of conscience, but very little 
cash. The resolution passed that Bishop Andrew 
should cease to exercise the office of bishop until 
his slaves were disposed of. The war then com- 
menced in earnest and went on. The old Church 
marched on, and the South part set up for itself. 
The South prosecuted the North in the courts and 
obtained a good share of the Book Concern. 

The giants of that day have laid off their armor 
and contend no more. Alfred Griffith, Charles 
Elliott, John A Collins, Henry B. Bascom, George 
Peck and his then youthful brother Jesse T. Peck, 
Leonidas L. Hamline and the elder and younger 
Pierce from the far South, and Joshua Soule are 
all gone to their account. 

I was working and mending wagons in Forty 
Fort when the seminary bell would sound two 
miles away. I was then twenty, with very little 
money, but much of ambition ; not much of " pol- 
ished manners and fine sense," but some oratory. 
I had spoken some in class without notes. I went 
in with all my might to make up for lost time. I 
mastered vulgar fractions and English grammar 
and then struck Latin and Greek. But my oratory 
was never satisfactory to myself, nor to Mr. Nelson, 
and was less so to the audience ; still, I determined 
to do something. I tried hard to give expression 

to Milton's " Paradise Lost " and Byron's " Battle 

226 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

of Waterloo/' and " Cicero against Verres." I 
wrote a composition, and predicted that in a few 
years the locomotive would be whistling through 
our streets, and the professor crossed that part out 
as too far off, even for a student's composition. I 
think now that I came nearer the truth than he 
did. Time went on, and I taught schools and 
boarded around ; Bostwick Haw T ley gave me license 
to exhort. I went to Carlisle and entered Dickin- 
son College. After two years there I took my 
diploma among the four-years students. Then I 
taught a select school in the State of Maryland for 
one year, then came to Wilkesbarre on a visit, and 
that year, 1853, joined the Wyoming Conference. 

The ministers of the Baltimore Conference ad- 
vised me to stay down there and join them. They 
even said I would starve to death if I came up 
here. They were faring sumptuously every day. 
The school officers offered to raise my wages to 
five hundred dollars a year if I would stay there 
and teach. But I came here and took my place in 
the ranks of the marching itinerants. 

The highest salary here was Wilkesbarre, five 
hundred dollars, and that required the help from 
Plainsville to pull it through. The missionary col- 
lection in the whole Conference was eighteen hun- 
dred dollars. Wilkesbarre paid one hundred and 
sixty dollars of that, Kingston eighty-six dollars. 
The highest claim then paid a superannuated 
preacher was fifty-six dollars and fifteen cents. We 
worked on for eight years and made some progress. 
At the Conference held in Owego in 1861 news 
came that the flag was under a hot rebel fire at 

Appendix A. 


Fort Sumter, and war meetings were held through 
the town. Bishop Simpson was cool but anxious. 
Dr. Durbin's face wore an unusually sad look. I 
was appointed to preach the missionary sermon 
the coming year. We took our appointments and 
left, hardly venturing to think what a year might 
bring forth. I wrote my sermon out, and at the 
next session, which was in the old Franklin Street 
Church, Wilkesbarre, read it with what power and 
force I could command, and I was complimented 
for it with a request of the Conference for its pub- 
lication. It was published in several papers. One 
was the Montrose Republican, I was called upon 
to repeat it in several circuits the next year. 

I read it in Susquehanna and Carbondale and 
some other places. I was treasurer of the Mission- 
ary Society that year, and also statistical secretary 
for the whole Conference, and edited the detailed 
missionary report. 

While we were in session here the news came of 
the defeat of Grant at Pittsburg Landing, and the 
times were sadly out of joint. And yet the loyal 
ministers and the loyal people prayed a good deal 
and kept their powder dry. 

The country's treasury was empty, the soldier 
was poorly clad and poorly paid, the rebels and 
others were sneering and jeering and yelling. Con- 
gress passed a law taxing luxuries, and for every 
gallon of liquor sold one dollar must go into Uncle 
Sam's treasury, and Abraham Lincoln signed the 

Theaters, tobacco, lager beer, cigars, snuff, all 
sent along their contributions to the fund to sup- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

port the army and save the country, and dollars 
poured into Uncle Sam's treasury faster than three 
men could count. And we were glad the treasury 
was filled, the country was saved, and the soldiers 
paid. Suppose some of our wise politicians had 
rushed to Washington and said to Uncle Abe : 
" Why, Mr. President, are you going to take money 
from the devil, and for it allow him to raise the 
devil? You become a partner in the crime of 
liquor-selling." Uncle Abe would reply, " I would 
save the Union." A man that would denounce the 
President and Congress for saving the Union in 
that way is not fit to breathe the atmosphere 
of the Union. You can call it high tax or low tax 
or high license, you will not spit on the money 
Uncle Sam gives you because he got some of it 
out of tax on intoxicating liquors. If you do not 
want it let it alone and hold your tongue. If you 
do not want your country saved in that way get 
out of it and go where you please. The Wyoming 
Conference stood by its country in its terrible 
struggle with treason. Our leading men were out- 
spoken and not mealy-mouthed. We believe in 
freedom for the black man and a party behind it to 
enforce it. 

Our missionary collections increased grandly 
every year during the war, and have kept on ever 
since increasing. The saddest Conference we ever 
had was at Carbondale, in 1865. When we assem- 
bled all were jubilant, Lee had surrendered to Grant 
at Appomattox, but in the midst of our joy word 
came that the President was shot. The flag trailed 
at half-mast, crowds came to the church in tears. 

Appendix A. 


The likeness of Abraham Lincoln stood before the 
pulpit folded in the darkest drapery. The house 
was full and silence reigned. Benjamin Ellis 
walked slowly up before the altar and gazed into 
the benevolent face of the martyred leader and 
great emancipator, and wept like a child. The 
Conference went on, but everything was under a 
cloud. At the close I was appointed presiding 
elder. I was brought into the cabinet with George 
P. Porter, Reuben Nelson, H. Brownscombe, Zach- 
ariah Paddock, and George Peck. I was four years 
in the eldership, and then left it for the ranks. We 
had glorious camp meetings and glorious quarterly 
meetings and glorious revivals while I was on the 
district. At the Conference in 1865 we reported 
six thousand dollars missionary money. During 
the twenty-five years since then we have traveled 
up to double and triple, until this year we record 
twenty thousand dollars. The doxology is very 
much in order now. Personally I have tried hard 
to do my share, and I have done some work out- 
side of the regular pastor\s duties. I once went 
onto a brother's charge to defend the doctrine of 
the Holy Trinity against an Arian minister who 
was spoiling to pulverize some Methodist divine. 
I went into the neighborhood and found him top- 
loftical, booted, and spurred. He would stick the 
hair up on top of his head and look daggers. He 
even thought I wanted to back out, and intimated 
as much. But I had no inclination to back out. 
I even agreed to try the gauge of battle in his nice 
new church. We had none in the neighborhood. 
The time came, and the church was lighted up and 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

was soon filled with eager persons to witness the 
fray. I made the first speech, and when I sat 
down he commenced to pulverize me. After three 
evenings of contention in high debate he was con- 
fident that somebody was pulverized, and he was 
half afraid it was himself, and I was sure it was not I. 
The audience decided that he had been squelched 
and annihilated. I left him in his own pulpit with 
his hair hanging down over his eyes, an utterly 
discouraged man. He never undertook again to 
annihilate the Methodist Church. Our society 
has been growing right there ever since, and we 
have two nice churches and a parsonage, while 
there is not now left a grease spot of the former 
flourishing Christian society. The house is still 
there, and that is all. This debate should have 
been undertaken by men other than myself. I 
was just ordained elder and was in the midst of 
my studies. The whole country through that part 
of the State of New York was being canvassed by 
A. J. Welton and his friends, and his pamphlet 
was being sold and given away among our mem- 
bers, and they claimed that Welton could not be 
answered. The pamphlet was an elaborate reply 
to one of our leading ministers on the divinity of 
our Saviour. The papers of the vicinity were used 
to throw slurs on our teaching, and right in the 
midst of it George P. Porter, who was stationed in 
Waverly, withdrew from the Church and openly 
announced himself as an unbeliever in the Chris- 
tian religion. The preachers in Binghamton and 
Owego, William H. Pearne and Z. Paddock and 
John J. Pearce, went on with their work, and the 

Appendix A. 


young Methodists were a little timid in asserting 
their belief. I studied Welton's pamphlet, and then 
I studied our side. My mind was made up, and 
when the challenge came I accepted. One woman 
in my congregation was a teacher of their faith. 
They were jubilant. The Methodists were timid, 
and they even sent committees to dissuade me 
from undertaking a war of words with that crowd. 
I told them I had agreed to do it and should do it 
if I lived. I met them, and the result is before the 
world. I have a copy of the whole in printed form. 

George Porter soon afterward returned to the fold 
and was rewarded with Waverly and Owego, and 
did good w r ork for several years, but toward the 
last of his life his mind wandered some. 

The Conference of seven years ago was to me a 
sad one, and yet proved to be one of the sweetest of 
my whole ministry. A sad, long, chilly sickness had 
wasted my powers so that I was as weak as a child. 
The session was held in Binghamton Centenary. 
I managed to be present, and my haggard appear- 
ance drew to me such a tide of brotherly sympathy 
and feeling as I had never supposed was possible. 
Dr. Andrews's treatment and the glorious brother- 
hood of Methodist preachers saved my life, and I 
am here to-day to thank God. My book, The Seven 
Wonders of the New World, was then but half 
written, and from then I recovered slowly but com- 
pletely, and completed the book, and it was put 
upon the market, and I am content. The Epworth 
League adopted it in its regular course of read- 
ing. The agent, Dr. Eaton, told me he intro- 
duced it in London, and it is popular there. Our 

232 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

late Conference was a grand one, and the Metho- 
dist Church to-day is a marvel of vitality and con- 
secrated wealth and sanctified talent. 

Party politicians and small-sized kickers do not 
seem to affect the grand march of this great army. 
The Church is great, the country potential, the flag 
is still there with no stars shot away, but several 
new stars added. Every swing of the world is up- 
ward, and humanity feels a mighty uplift. Tele- 
graphs, telephones, photographs, graphophones, 
phonographs, and electric motors bring the whole 
world together, and these have all come inside of 
the sixty-five years. It is a time of great thoughts 
and great movements and great words. Giants 
shake the world and stride into the sun. The 
wounded Galilean leads the great world upward. 

Brothers, I am proud to be reckoned as one of 
your number. We are building three churches a 
day, and that is a small part of the work we do. 
We are building a new Conference every year. 
There are three times as many Conferences now as 
there were thirty-seven years ago, and there is 
greater average strength in each one than there 
was then. The laymen have come into our coun- 
sels, and with their accumulated wealth lift our in- 
stitutions of learning and churches out of debt and 
found others. " God bless the Methodist Church ! " 
Men of God, in content possess your hearts. 

" Per varios casus per tot discritnina rerum tendi- 
nitis in Coelum." 

Wilkesbarre, April 28, 1890. 

Appendix B. 233 


The following is from the Wilkesbarre Evening 
Leader of August, 1894, written by request of the 
city editor, Wesley E. Woodruff. 

A Great Camp Meeting. 
This was not in the historic past, though a great 
many such stand on the records, and the aged and 
enfeebled ones can tell of them, and memory recurs 
to them oft in the stilly night. But this one was 
only sixteen years ago, and many now living can 
recite some of the interesting events that then and 
there occurred. It was on the Wyoming camp 
ground. The same trees are there, grown taller 
and stronger. The ground is there, and many of 
the cottages. The preachers' stand and the plat- 
form are there. It was at the twilight of evening 
that I walked into the ground as a visitor, I had 
borrowed five dollars of a kind lady to pay my ex- 
penses. The atmosphere was salubrious and the 
songs melodious. My hand was clasped by friends 
who now slumber in the grave, and by others who 
still live. I was soon in a great crowd of people of 
all ages, mostly young, in a vast open chapel at the 
upper end of the ground. Everybody was prayer- 
ful, cheerful, and hopeful. Several other prayer 
meetings were going on in cottages and tents. I 
was only in long enough to hear the winding up. 
A young minister jumped upon a bench and 
shouted that lie wanted to read a postal card. It 
was from a young friend way West. He had just 
been converted at a camp meeting. The doxol- 

234 Luther Peck and his Five SonSc 

ogy was sung, the bell sounded for public service, 
and the throngs moved toward the stand. W. H. 
Olin, the presiding elder, requested me to pray for 
the brother who was going to preach. Reuben 
Nelson was in the stand, and John F. Hurst, Henry 
Brownscombe, Chaplain McCabe were in the altar, 
and the preachers of the Conference filled the places 
in the stand. While I was praying there seemed 
to be a thousand others praying. The whole forest 
seemed to be surcharged with heavenly influences. 
The wings of angels seemed to fan us. The pray- 
ing went on for several seconds after the time for 
the prayer was up. There was no discord nor 
harshness in the sounds ; the leaves of the trees 
seemed hung with silver bells, every one of them. 
Some remained kneeling, others sat up and leaned 
their heads against trees, and stumps for support. 
Reuben Nelson wiped his eyes with that only hand, 
the left one. The German brother, just from the 
fatherland, struggled with his breath to keep from 
shouting. John F. Hurst arose from his kneeling 
posture and cast his keen eyes over the unusual 
scene and smiled audibly. Then music arose, led by 
that inimitable Chaplain McCabe, the same voice 
that had echoed in the gloom of Libby Prison : 

"We're marching to Zion, 
Beautiful, beautiful Zion ; 
We're marching upward to Zion, 
The beautiful city of God." 

The brother that was to preach looked at his text, 
then to his notes, but could not help singing; every- 
body sang, and the refrain was repeated again and 

Appendix B. 


again. The presiding elder remarked that maybe 
the sermon would have to be omitted. The sing- 
ing went on with that lofty refrain, " We're march- 
ing to Zion." 

Finally there was a pause to get breath, and the 
orator took his text and went through his sermon. 
Then E. W. Caswell got upon his feet and seemed 
to have difficulty to stand, but managed to utter 
the word "Jesus" half under his breath, then he 
uttered the same word again and again until his 
voice reached the farthest men on the ground. In- 
quirers after a new life crowded to the front. 
Prayer and song were the order of the evening, 
and shouts came from the victors. Ten o'clock 
came, and the bell sounded, and nobody seemed 
to be ready for it. Slowly the crowds went to 
their night's rest, but a great many to spend the 
rest of the night in prayer. I went up into the min- 
isterial dormitory and heard the shout, "Glory!" 
as one of the itinerants lay upon his cot trying 
hard to keep from disturbing the whole ground. 

The camp meeting went on with pow T er, until 
more than a hundred prodigals came to their Fa- 
ther's house. Chaplain McCabe speaks of it in 
social circles and refers to it on the platform 
standing before vast throngs of people. Many 
will remember what he said on that Sunday night, 
in the new Franklin Street Church, Wilkesbarre, 
when the vast auditorium was crowded and there 
was no standing room left, April n, 1886. He 
said that the Wyoming people could beat any- 
body in the world singing, and referred to " that 
night on the camp ground when J. K. Peck 

236 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

prayed. A dozen or more were prostrated under 
the power of God, and everybody was seized with 
a reverent spirit/* 

That was eight years after that camp meeting 
closed, and it was fresh in his memory then, and 
he asked us to join in singing that glorious refrain 
which sounded with such volume in the tented 
grove eight years before. Bishop Hurst says to- 
day that that meeting on that camp ground that 
evening was the climax of all the meetings of his 


THIS paper was prepared and read for the Wyo- 
ming District Ministerial Association convened in 
Ashley, October, 1892. 

Is America Working Out Her True Destiny? 

The rhetorical and versatile delineator of mun- 
dane happenings, Thomas H. Prescott,* A.M., has 
this promulgation in regard to Columbus, page 799: 
" He regarded himself as a personage expressly 
predestined by Heaven to discover a new world 
and prepare the way for the recovery of the Holy 
Sepulcher and the conversion of the whole world 
to Christianity." 

On another page is the following record : " He 
had all along cherished the design of devoting the 
wealth he acquired from his discoveries to the ob- 
ject of rescuing the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem 
from the hands of the infidels." 

Appendix C. 


In these brief quotations we find the true in- 
wardness and inspiration of the farseeing voyager. 

His theme, Christianity versus infidelity ; his 
stage, the trackless ocean ; his dramatis personce 
his one hundred and twenty-five marines; his 
audience, the potential aggregation of humanity 
in the parquet and the millions of spirits looking 
down from the upper galleries. 

As the curtain rises the actors are seen upon 
their knees chanting " Te Deums," sails are hoisted, 
and away they speed. Days pass. Nights pass. 
Months pass, when, lo and behold, a half of the 
whole world, an unknown continent, stretches 
across their path, and they take possession of it 
in the name of their king and queen and in the 
name of the Sovereign of heaven. 

The emblem of the Church of God was then and 
there planted in the virgin soil of the new and 
strange land ; planted there for the first time. 

The New World opened wide the doors for new 
thoughts, and in a few revolving years a man of 
God and a minister dares proclaim the theory that 
the world moves and swings in space. 

This was not known when our hero planted the 
cross in the western world. The contest between 
Christianity and infidelity now opened with new 
vigor and was waged fiercely on two continents, and 
now, after four swinging centuries of songs and 
shouts and contests and debates and crusades and 
revolutions, we that are permitted to open our eyes 
upon the pageant of the quadricentennial stop to 
ask the question, Is America fulfilling her^mission 
and working out her true destiny? Here is a ques- 

238 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

tion that will bear study to find the correct answer, 
and in this study we should endeavor to divest our- 
selves of preconceived notions, and make an hercu- 
lean effort to get away from prejudice, and try to 
eliminate the least bit of educational bias, and go 
into the jury box to hear the evidence and give 
candid audience. 

Some people with ardent and sanguine tempera- 
ment will take a superficial and cursory view of the 
situation, and after reading a pessimistic editorial 
of a more pessimistic newspaper from a croaking 
editor, who has the chronic moral dyspepsia of a 
severe type, they are prepared to jump upon every- 
body in office, in the Church and in the State ; 
they exclaim with rolling eyes, " We are growing 
backward and downward, we are retrograding and 
sliding hellward, and all going to the canines 
with accelerated velocity ; the lawmakers are 
political tricksters, and the church members and 
ministers are a good deal like them, and every 
man is a selfish scoundrel, and most women are un- 
virtuous ; the laws are a fraud and our boasted 
free government is a sham." 

See here, my friends, let us reason together while 
we are on the way to the lower regions ; let us talk 
over the matter. 

The men who found this new world were seek- 
ing to extend Christianity and destroy infidelity, 
and after four hundred years how fares the con- 

Look on that cathedral with its spire pointing to 


Look on that silver dollar with its eagle and 

Appendix C, 


"E phiribus unum" and its Goddess of Liberty, and, 
better and grander than all else, " In God we trust." 

Are we trying to enthrone infidelity and strangle 
Christianity p If we are, then our country is not 
fulfilling its destiny. 

But I stand here to say the reverse is true. 

Look at the history of four hundred years. The 
Holy Bible has been burned, to be sure, and the 
holy men have been burned, and the strife has 
been bloody and terrible, but infidelity has been 
gradually losing the combat. 

Christianity outrides the billows of revolution, 
and though once dead and buried it has a resur- 
rection, and as often as it has been entombed it 
has asserted its power to rise and its right to 
live. It has trailed its golden light in the wilder- 
ness and sailed the seas and oceans over. 

Since Ispaniola, sent out her missionaries, and 
they moved westward to find a new world, the mis- 
sionary spirit has been taking a firmer hold upon 
the masses of the people the world over. 

America is to-day leading the nations in evan- 
gelizing the teeming tribes of men. Infidelity 
does not flourish in American soil. The greatest 
men and the best men, poets, orators, statesmen, 
and women have been carrying the banner that 
floated over the Santa Maria as she plowed the 
waves in search of a western world. 

When printing was invented Christian men 
manipulated the first movable types, and, behold, 
the Bible and song books and prayer books were 
like flying angels over the old countries and across 
the western sea, and the Puritans kneeled upon the 

240 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

thin soil of Plymouth Rock, and the songs of Zion 
take the place of the Indian war whoop, and this 
land of Columbus sends the bugle call onward as 
the star of empire takes its way. 

The people of the United States contribute an- 
nually five million five hundred thousand dollars 
for mission work at home and abroad, and half of 
this sum is spent in the Old World, where Chris- 
tianity had its birth and its cradle, and millions of 
children's voices sing: 

" Waft, waft, ye winds, his story, 

And you, ye waters, roll, 
Till, like a sea of glory, 

It spreads from pole to pole." 

And we are still going to the Plutonian shores. 
So says the dissatisfied grumbler. 

Are we fulfilling our destiny? I answer, We are, 
the pessimists to the contrary notwithstanding. 

The bloody bullfights do not stain American soil. 
The juggernaut and the funeral pyre are not al- 
lowed here, and Washington drew his sword in 
behalf of liberty and succeeded, and Columbia be- 
came the " land of the free and the home of the 

The timid slave has come out of his shackles by 
the stroke of the pen in the hand of the immortal 
Lincoln, and the dark-skinned Ethiopian shouts 
for his long-looked-for jubilee. 

Polygamy is destined to go down before the 
marching hosts of the Church militant. Lotteries 
are breathing their last. The pulse of infidelity 
beats faintly and languidly, and Christianity in ear- 

Appendix C. 


nest points with pride to her three new churches a 
day, or a thousand a year. 

Four hundred years ago Columbus found the 
people of this New World nude as they were born, 
now they are clothed in purple and fine linen, and 
will not the Saviour in the last great day say to us, 
" Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of 
of these, ye have done it unto me?" 

Twelve millions of homes now cover this broad 
land under the fostering care of our government. 
Homes were out of the question when the Santa 
Maria first touched these wild shores. There was 
no family circle and no family altar ; no mottoes, 
" God bless our home," hanging in the parlor, and 
no parlor to hang them in, and no home for God 
to bless, and no skillful hands to work such mot- 
toes, and no childish prayer at the mother's side, 
" Now I lay me down to sleep." 

Look at this country to-day with its millions of 
native inhabitants and its millions of foreigners 
who are seeking an asylum here ; coming to stay, 
coming by the thousands annually, coming to work 
and eat and drink, vote and live, pray and sing, to 
grow rich and make fortunes, to hold office, to own 
homes, to till the soil, to dig gold and silver, to 
mine coal and saw wood, to bore for oil and catch 
codfish, to lay railroad tracks and run engines, to 
build bridges and make watches, to spin cotton and 
card wool, to raise oranges and eat oysters, to 
make glass into a thousand shapes; and Uncle Sam 
is rich enough to give us all a farm. 

To be sure a Chinese wall confronts the immigrant 

from the Celestial Empire, but he manages to get 

242 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

over it or around it and mingles with the American- 
born and the foreign-born. He ties up his cue 
and no more peddles rats for a living, but becomes 
a washee for cuffs and collars for the lords and 
ladies of the greatest and richest nation on earth. 
He rakes in the five-cent pieces, and as soon as he 
can read a line of English he traces the words on 
his nickel, " In God we trust." 

Here we are working out a great problem — the 
enthronement and coronation of humanity. 

Great States are joined hand in hand to accom- 
plish this object. Forty-four sovereign republics 
are in this vast domain and others are knocking to 
come in. They are pulling at the doorbell and 
pressing the electric button anxious for the door to 

The Empire State and the Lone Star and the 
Old Dominion and the Keystone are but parts of 
this stupendous whole, and new sovereignties are 
struggling to join hands in this circle of mighty 

This family is large and is growing larger. Peo- 
ple and realms of every tongue are crowding to our 
shores and spreading themselves on our vast 
prairies. They hear the noise of our rolling wheels 
and the buzzing of our millions of spindles, and 
they are in a hurry to be counted in. 

If we should hoist a banner with this motto in 
capital letters at Castle Garden and all other land- 
ing places, " This country is going to perdition 
with lightning speed, "every immigrant would land, 
and the next steamer would disgorge its full quota 
of immigrants, and the next would do the same. 

Appendix C. 


The truth is the croakers are not believed by the 
people of this country nor any other country, nor 
do they believe themselves their own lugubrious 
ravings. If they did they would leave instanter, 
like rodents from a sinking ship. 

Surely this is a great country and we are a great 
people, and we are growing rapidly. We consume 
five hundred million dollars' worth of bread in one 
year and spend nearly as much for cotton and woolen 
goods, three hundred millions of dollars in meats, 
two hundred millions for boots and shoes, one and 
a half millions for sugar and molasses, ninety-six 
millions for public schools, twelve millions for 
clergymen's salaries, and more than a thousand 
millions for intoxicating drinks, and only a fraction 
of the people drink at all, but all wear clothes and 
shoes and eat bread. So that our average bread 
bill for one year for each man, woman, and child is 
seventeen dollars, while the average drinker pays 
out thirty dollars for drink and seventeen dollars 
for bread, and the government tax on this amount 
of poisonous drink keeps the treasury full, and with 
the aid of the tax on tobacco and cigars and cigar- 
ettes and the tariff on importations the government 
pays its army and navy, the pensions of its wounded 
soldiers and the widows of dead soldiers, pays for 
its diplomatic ministers, pays the President's salary 
and the salaries of congressmen, judges of the su- 
preme court, and members of the cabinet, and the 
department of the interior, and builds post offices 
and makes up deficiencies in that department, and 
pays all the clerks of all departments, and sends 
out seeds to the farmers, and has virtually extin- 

244 Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

guished a war debt of more than two thousand 
millions of dollars and has millions of money in the 
treasury at the end of every fiscal year ; and we do 
not pay a cent of this vast amount of money ex- 
cept we chew tobacco or smoke ; and one of the 
live questions of to-day is whether we should take 
off the tax from liquor and pay these enormous 
bills out of our own pockets. I am free to say 
that I am not in favor of taking it off. 

I would sooner double it than take it off. I am 
in favor of stopping the whole business, but as 
long as it is running in any part of the United 
States, tax it. Here is my platform : Tax it until 
it is prohibited and prohibit it as soon as possible, 
and we will find some other way to fill up the 

And you that say take off the tax now will cer- 
tainly be willing to suggest a remedy for an empty 
treasury until such time as the traffic is dead and 

Is the nation with all this turmoil and strife and 
drinking working out its true destiny? It is edu- 
cating the children to read and write ; it is build- 
ing schoolhouses among the poor, and the Church 
is sending instructors everywhere, and all are fur- 
nished with a printed Bible, and when that is worn 
out another is given and the word of God is pos- 
sessed and studied and read by more people than 
any other book on the round earth. 

Infidelity cannot get a foothold here, for the 
courts refuse to grant those people a charter for 
a hall. Judge Sharswood, of the Supreme Court of 
Pennsylvania, in refusing to grant a charter for a 

Appendix C. 


freeth inkers' hall, said, " Such a hall would be used 
to insult the people of the State whose religion 
was Christianity. The teaching of such a company 
would result in our sons becoming gamblers and 
our daughters becoming frequenters of unholy lo- 

The truth is that in this country Sunday school 
rooms and churches have the right of way, and 
parents are not afraid to allow their sons and 
daughters to go as often as possible, but they can- 
not think of their darkening the doors of a school 
of vice and infidelity. And if the unbelievers come 
into our midst and succeed in getting into a public 
hall to lecture, they are compelled to take the 
money of a Christian people with the name of the 
Supreme Being upon it, if they get any money for 
their lecture ; and they take it and are glad to get 
it, and they do not discount it because it is Chris- 
tian money. 

Christian songs are sung everywhere, and our own 
William Taylor is waving the Gospel light through 
and over darkest Africa, and our own Thoburn is 
teaching the Lord's Prayer among the Sepoys, and 
the cannibals of the Fiji Islands are turning their 
eyes toward the Star of Bethlehem, and steam cars 
are running from Damascus to Jerusalem and to 
Joppa, and half a dozen steamers laden with pro- 
visions at American ports have this year plowed 
the seas to far-off Russia, floating the Stars and 
Stripes and the Cross, and the thousands of starving 
and dying there have blessed God that there is a 
country where brave hearts beat and liberal souls 
sing and pray and give, and the whole world be- 


Luther Peck and his Five Sons. 

comes a great brotherhood; and now, to-day, with 
our Young Men's Christian Associations and our 
Woman's Christian Temperance Union and Wom- 
an's Christian Temperance Alliance, the Christian 
Endeavor Societies of young people, and Epworth 
Leagues in addition to the churches and mission- 
ary societies, are we not working out our true des- 
tiny as a nation ? 

Lo, the poor Indian, is being fed and clothed and 
educated, and in this four-hundredth year he will 
join in the Columbus procession with the Bible 
hanging to his belt instead of a human scalp. 

Afric's dusky swarms march in this cavalcade, 
not in clanking chains, but " shouting the battle 
cry of freedom." 

O, Columbia, I am proud that I was born on thy 
soil ! Let no man dare assail thy honor or blast 
thy fair fame. 

To-day the Old World is placing a coronet upon 
thy brow and laying offerings at thy feet, and the 
songs of thy millions of sons and daughters are 
making the skies ring, the bells sound, and the full 
bands play, the drums beat, and cannons roar. 

" Thy mandates make heroes assemble 

When Liberty's form is in view, 
Thy banners make tyranny tremble 

When borne by the red, white, and blue." 

Now, fellow-workers, brothers and sisters, my 
task is done, poorly, it may be, but I will only say 

" God be with you till we meet again."